Taking the themes of community and society, race and equality, Bryan Biggs’ playlist with Bluecoat focuses on songs of freedom and emancipation, of group solidarity and personal liberty.
Wherever there is injustice, people respond creatively, none more so than through music.
From folk and early working-class traditions, the selection moves on to protest songs across the 20th century, particularly the 1960s with the civil rights movement in America, anti-colonial struggles from Africa to the Caribbean, and the demand for equality for women and LGBTQ people. The music continues right up to the present.
There are many well-known songs of freedom here, as well as obscure records in a range of genres including calypso, ska and reggae, soul, funk and hip-hop, gospel and blues, rock and punk, folk and Afrobeat.
While compiling this playlist, the events in Minneapolis were starting to unfold and, as the world responded with horror, indignation and solidarity, the selection took on a new urgency.
While celebrating – and perhaps singing along and dancing to – these songs, the reality is that the injustices that many of them railed against are far from overcome.
The link to listen is listed above.