Thinking about… Freedom Songs

The chorus will once again be singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” This is a powerful and central song from the African American civil rights movement. I sang the song as a child in Milwaukee when my family was active in the “March on Milwaukee” for fair housing.

We sing the song with lyrics that commemorate the history in 1967 Milwaukee, but the song continues to have power and meaning as the struggles it represents still exist.

Here are a couple of great recordings of this song, done in different ways.

First up, a vintage recording from the Freedom Singers including Bernice Johnson Reagon.

Freedom Singers, 1961


Next, a fabulous 2013 recording by Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely. (Toshi is Bernice’s daughter.) This is a deep dive into the content of the song, and includes some meditations on what it really means to sing it.


Here’s our version

About Sing! A Women's Chorus

Founded in 1999 by director Mags David, Sing! A Women’s Chorus is based in the Duluth Public Schools Community Education program. This ensemble is open to all registrants. Music is learned through the oral tradition, allowing singers at all levels of experience to participate. We sing traditional music from the U.S., Europe, and West Africa, and original songs written for the chorus by Mags David.
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