Every Tone a Testimony: An African American Aural History

Every Tone a Testimony: An African American Aural History


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Subtitled "An African American Aural History," the scope of this two-CD set is impressive, encompassing poetry, writings, speeches, and music by many major Black musicians, writers, and activists of the 20th century. The focus of the disc, however, wavers enough to make it an uneven, jumpy listening experience, although it's a valuable source for educators and radio programmers that might want to draw upon specific tracks to make specific points. All but five of the 59 selections come from within the Smithsonian Folkways collection itself, ranging in length from 20-second soundbites to six-minute musical performances. Whether read by others or by the authors themselves, this contains excerpts of notable literary works or speeches by significant African-Americans such as Langston Hughes, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, Martin Luther King, Jr., Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, and Ishmael Reed (sometimes read by notable actors like Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee). The music is a real mixed bag of styles, but again commendably diverse, with performances by Reverend Gary Davis, Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, Paul Robeson, Hamiet Bluiett, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, James P. Johnson, and Arrested Development -- everything from country-blues and jazz to gospel and rap. Occasionally some of the pieces transcend their considerable historical/educational interest as incendiary performances in their own right, such as Amiri Baraka's remarkably lively, visceral performance of his poem "Dope" and the Golden Eagles' infectious Mardi Gras percussive chants. There are extensive liner notes, but these don't always indicate the date of performance
ecording, which even in case of the spoken word tracks would be useful information for many of the people apt to listen to such a disc.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/27/2001
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
UPC: 0093074700327
catalogNumber: 47003
Rank: 270933

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Arrested Development   Track Performer
Big Bill Broonzy   Track Performer
Elizabeth Cotten   Track Performer
Paul Robeson   Track Performer
Golden Eagles   Track Performer
Solomon Burke   Track Performer
Hamiet Bluiett   Baritone Saxophone
Jayne Cortez   Track Performer
Billy Hart   Drums
Langston Hughes   Track Performer
James P. Johnson   Piano
Ishmael Reed   Track Performer
Marc Ribot   Guitar
John Miller   Piano
Paul Oscher   Harmonica
Angela Davis   Track Performer
Nikki Giovanni   Track Performer
Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson   Guitar
Bernice Johnson Reagon   Vocals
Arna Bontemps   Track Performer
Ossie Davis   Track Performer
Gwendolyn Brooks   Track Performer
Ruby Dee   Track Performer
Dock Reed   Track Performer
Sonia Sanchez   Vocals,Sounds
Amiri Baraka   Track Performer
Alan Booth   Piano
Brownie McGhee   Guitar
Crispin Cioe   Baritone Saxophone
Dave Conrad   Bass
Rev. Gary Davis   Guitar,Vocals
Rutha Harris   Vocals
Bob Kent   Drums
S.P. Leary   Drums
George Nicholas   Tenor Saxophone
Percy Randolph   Vocals
Cordell Hull Reagon   Vocals
Sonny Terry   Harmonica
Otis Spann   Piano
Wayne Wallace   Guitar
Sterling A. Brown   Track Performer
James "Pee Wee" Madison   Guitar
Rich Manuel "Rich" Amerson   Track Performer
Scott Dunbar   Guitar
Martin Luther King   Track Performer
Billie Pierce   Track Performer
Doretha Skipper   Track Performer
Bobby Seale   Track Performer
Arno Hecht   Tenor Saxophone
Sarah Webster Fabio   Track Performer
Claude McKay   Track Performer
Countee Cullen   Track Performer
Fisk University Jubilee Singers   Track Performer
Gabriel Rotello   Keyboards
Margaret Walker   Track Performer
James P. Johnson & His Orchestra   Track Performer
Dave Jackson   Bass
Charles Neblett   Vocals

Technical Credits

Arrested Development   Composer
Lead Belly   Composer
Guy Carawan   Engineer
Jerry Butler   Artwork,Cover Image
Alan Lomax   Engineer
Sonia Sanchez   Dialect Coach
Moses Asch   Interviewer
Rev. Gary Davis   Songwriter
Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart   Composer
Bert Russell   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Robert H. Cataliotti   Producer,Annotation
James Weldon Johnson   Composer
John W. II Work   Arranger,Director

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Every Tone a Testimony: An African American Aural History 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is without a doubt the most exciting American History resource to cross my desk in years! It contains 59 tracks (nearly two and a half hours) of material drawn from the Smithsonian Folkways archive, organized to create a history of African American life and culture in sound. It presents music, poetry, oratory and prose by historically renowned African American musicians, writers and activists spanning two centuries. Just a sampling of the diverse voices you'll hear include Langston Hughes, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B.Du Bois, Margaret Walker, the Fisk Jubliee Singers, Gwendolyn Brooks, Paul Robeson, Muddy Waters, the SNCC Freedom Singers , Martin Luther King, Jr, Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni, and Arrested Development. Writers who predate recorded sound are also represented by historical recordings; for example, Arna Bontemps reads writings of Lucy Terry, Ruby Dee reads Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. (I was impressed with the equal representation of women throughout the project.) Folk tracks trace the development of African American music: for example, there's a ''field call'' by Annie Grace Horn Dodson, a ''complaint call'' by Enoch Brown. Percy Randolph performs a shoe shining song, and the Inmates Of Ramsey Retrieve State Farms perform a work song. As if that's not enough for under $25, it also includes an extensive booklet with supplemental material. Anyone who teaches American History or African American Studies cannot afford to be without this CD, and anyone who loves aural history will want it in their collection. It's invaluable.