Long before anyone ever heard of 'protest music', people in America were singing about their struggles. They sang for justice and fairness, food and shelter, and equality and freedom; they sang to be acknowledged. Sometimes they also sang to oppress. This book uncovers the history of these people and their songs, from the moment Columbus made fateful landfall to the start of the Second World War, when 'protest music' emerged as an identifiable brand. Cutting across musical genres, Will Kaufman recovers the passionate voices of America itself. We encounter songs of the mainland and the conquered territories of Hawai'i, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines; we hear Indigenous songs, immigrant songs and Klan songs, minstrel songs and symphonies, songs of the heard and the unheard, songs of the celebrated and the anonymous, of the righteous and the despicable. This magisterial book shows that all these songs are woven into the very fabric of American history.
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