This February iconic roots label Smithsonian Folkways will release The Social Power of Music, a four-disc box set that assembles some of the most politically significant songs of the twentieth century.
“Songs that rang true in the 1960s, railing against the plight of women, minorities, and human rights, are just as poignant over 50 years later, as the world has begun to roll back much of what was gained by the global civil rights movements,” the label said in a press statement.
The music featured on the box set originally appeared on labels that Smithsonian Folkways has acquired through the years, including Arhoolie, Paredon, UNESCO, and Monitor.
The set examines songs from four different perspectives. Disc One (“Songs Of Struggle”) concerns itself with tunes related to the civil rights struggle and includes offerings from Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and The Freedom Singers. Disc Two (“Sacred Sounds”) presents songs from different religious and spiritual practices around the world. Disc Three (“Social Songs And Gatherings”) includes songs of celebration and unity, and Disc Four (“Global Movements”) surveys a collection of tunes that were attached to various political and labor movements.
To celebrate the box set’s release, Smithsonian Folkways is hosting a listening party on January 2 at Songbyrd Record Café and Music House in Washington D.C. The box set will be officially released on February 22.