Juneteenth in Concert

by Carmen Woodruff
Carmen Woodruff

For many, Juneteenth marks true freedom in the U.S. because everyone finally got the memo that they were no longer enslaved. More than two years later! Throughout the Civil War, many slave masters migrated to the deep South—Galveston, Texas most specifically—in hopes that they could continue what Abraham Lincoln vowed to end in January of 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. Slaves in the Confederate states would now be considered “free.”

Slaves and their masters carried on with, well…slavery, and other atrocities until Union General Gordon Granger commanded freedom on June 19, 1865. He arrived in Texas flanked by 2,000 soldiers, many of them Black to spread the news. This was especially significant because the migration of 1,000 had now grown to 250,000 slaves who didn’t know they were free either by coincidence, confusion or dishonesty.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it must’ve felt like to miss that type of message.

June is also Black Music Month, so I thought I’d match song titles to emotions and feelings the slaves might’ve felt upon receiving such news, with a spotlight on famed Black artists, producers and composers.

  1. “I Hate You So Much Right Now” – Artist, Kellis; Composer: Pharrell Williams
    Commentary: No explanation needed.
  2. “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind this Time)” – Artist, Delfonics; Composers, Thom Bell & William Hart
    Commentary: Mind blowing is an understatement.
  3. “Thriller” – Artist, Michael Jackson; Producer, Quincy Jones
    Commentary: What a nightmare this has been.
  4. “Never Can Say Goodbye” – Artist, Gloria Gaynor
    Commentary: “Don’t wanna let you go!” This is like a bad break-up. It’s OVER, honey!
  5. “Round and Round” – Artist, Tevin Campbell; Composer, Prince
    Commentary: We were truly given the runaround to the 13th power!
  6. “Stop! in the Name of Love” – Artist, Supremes; Composers/Producers: Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier
    Commentary: Please stop talking to me.
  7. “Make It Happen” – Artist/Songwriter/Composer, Mariah Carey
    Commentary: “I was abandoned and alone…sometimes I couldn’t even eat; I often cried myself to sleep…” Sounds about right. Let’s sign these papers and get out of here.
  8. “Mama Said Knock You Out” – Artist, LL Cool J; Composers: Bootsy Collins and George Clinton
    Commentary: Lots of pent up frustration here. Everyone else has been freed for two years! In the recent words of Oprah, “What?!” Woosah! Time to smile and back away most productively with a compass or drinking gourd directing us towards the North.
  9. “Freedom” – Artists, Various; Composers: Joi Gilliam and Dallas Austin
    Commentary: It finally starts to settle in. “Freedom for my body; freedom for my mind.”
  10. “Stand Up” – Artist/Composer, Cynthia Erivo with Joshuah Brian Campbell
    Commentary: We’ve got this. Thank you very much. We will move on to become the wildest dreams of our ancestors.

In 1865, The Thirteenth Amendment put an end to slavery and “involuntary servitude” for states like Mississippi and Georgia who just couldn’t let it go.

I’ll create a separate song list for that ongoing situation starting with this one by H.E.R.

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