To recognize the power of protest music, acknowledge its role in keeping dissent alive and how musicians translate social issues and systemic problems into song, The Dissenter has launched a daily feature that highlights a protest song every weekday.
The selection for today comes by request from Chase Madar, journalist and author of The Passion of Bradley Manning. It is by Raw Spitt (a.k.a. Charlie Whitehead), a singer whose voice is irresistibly comparable to Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding.
Whitehead recognizes that he can choose what songs he will sing in the world, as an artist, and proceeds to list off all the different subjects of the current time period of which he would sing.
I’ll sing about a people/That want to be free/I’ll sing a about a generation/That will help it to be/I’ll sing about a change/That’s just about to come/I’ll sing about equality/Lord, for everyone
He will also sing about war, “completely unjust.” He will sing about “a nation the world would no longer trust.” He’ll sing about the riots on TV and how “after 500 years people are still not free.”
As much as this deep cut of soul music is about civil rights and social justice for African-American people, the song is also about the power of art. Whitehead expresses his conviction that he can call attention to an array of issues facing people of the country because he is a singer. He also displays idealism and hope that more people will continue to rise up and challenge social injustice. When that happens, Whitehead wants to be around to sing about this moment, to put it into song and to, perhaps, do his part to contribute to keeping the struggle alive.
Here’s the song:
The Dissenter will be putting one of these up every weekday morning. If you have requests for songs that should be featured or if you have a protest song you recorded, which you would like to see featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.