We’re just past the middle of another tumultuous year. While one result is increased uncertainty, another is increased awareness of the need to confront fundamental problems facing humanity. Indeed, many of us realized the pandemic presented an opportunity. That opportunity has to a large extent been squandered but it nonetheless persists since the conditions that produced it have in no way subsided. The previous entry on this website contains my Proposal for Social Transformation. I wrote how we as a species and a society can seize the opportunity to ensure that future generations enjoy the benefits of health, peace and clean energy. The provision of free health care for all, the cessation of armed conflict everywhere and the replacement of fossil fuels by clean energy, still hold the greatest promise not only of solving our most pressing problems but of uniting the greatest numbers of people to achieve these goals. In this context and towards this end the following update on particular projects is provided.
Songs of Slavery and Emancipation
The book will be published by the University Press of Mississippi and is being copy-edited as this is written. I will review the manuscript in September towards an October completion-date. Publication is scheduled for June, 2022, so review copies have to be available by February at the latest.
There will be a German translation. It will be published by Ibidem Verlag in Hanover. The German publication date will be announced as soon as the translation is completed. The hope is that the German language edition will be available as close as possible to the date the English language version is published.
The accompanying CDs (two hours of music) will be produced and distributed by Jalopy Records of Brooklyn, New York. The CDs and the English version of the book will be published simultaneously and be made available as a package or sold separately. The CDs will also be made available to European audiences through the German publisher.
Our film will be distributed and shown in various ways. First, with the help of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, we will have a series of screenings in their various local offices beginning with New York and Berlin. Secondly, we plan to hold screenings in the various locations audio recording was done. This includes the National Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro, New York, Berea College, Berea, Kentucky, David Ruggles House in Florence, Massachusetts, and the Jalopy Theater, Brooklyn, New York. Finally, we hope to coordinate with the University Press of Mississippi to host screenings in Jackson, Mississippi and other locations in the South.
We expect 2022 to be a very busy year!
Art in History and Politics
In April 2021 we launched our new website which announced the expansion of our board of directors and our plans for the future. Briefly, Art in History and Politics plans to raise funds and promote the use of educational materials we sponsor and to a large extent produce ourselves. The website contains all the pertinent information so I won’t repeat that here but suffice it to say, we expect this organization to facilitate the ongoing work exemplified by the three projects we’ve already realized. For more information please visit: www.arthistorypolitics.com
It Is Right to Rebel
In the previous news entry I called this album “Music For People,” then the working title of our album. Since that time, however, the situation has dramatically changed. By a circuitous route we found a record label that not only wants to put out the album but insists on it being a vinyl, double-LP. The resurgence of interest in vinyl records has been so great that it makes recordings like ours viable in this format. In fact, it may be that the audience for music such as ours is even greater amongst vinyl-lovers than among those used to CDs. The label is Nummer Tretter in Trondheim, Norway. They suggested we change the name of the record to It Is Right to Rebel since this phrase appears in the lyrics to two of the songs. Yvonne and I gave this some thought and arrived at the conclusion that the title calls attention to one of the major themes of our album and was a suitable followup to our previous albums, namely James Connolly’s Songs of Freedom and Working Class Heroes.
We are hoping the album will be available by November but delays at the pressing plant may mean the album only comes out in February next year. It’s interesting to note that there is such a demand for vinyl that pressing plants are backed up, sometimes as much as six months, making the release of albums and the organizing of tours to support them a tricky business. At present, therefore, we plan to use videos of some of the songs as a means of popularizing the “live” aspect of this music. I will be announcing the availability of such videos in the near future. But for starters, you can see three songs we performed for the Clearwater Festival in June this year: video
The Unholy Trinity
Between 2010 and 2019 I did extensive research for three different musical projects, Songs of Freedom, Working Class Heroes and Songs of Slavery and Emancipation. The obstacles I encountered in the process raised many questions concerning the way our perception of music and of history are shaped. I discovered that the songs we were bringing to light as well as the people who made them, had not simply been overlooked. There were institutions that to one extent or another had contributed to the burial of certain vital components of our musical and historical heritage. These institutions-the academy, the music industry and journalism-form the Unholy Trinity. Exploring the implications for music and for history is the purpose this new project hopes to serve. To that end, a group of scholars has convened to hold a symposium in Fall 2022 that will serve as the basis for a book to present our findings. We are working with Manchester University Press to bring this material to the general public. I will write more about this in future entries on this website.