A History of American Protest Music

Woody Guthrie

By Jon Sievert

Protest music has been a powerful cry for justice throughout history, uniting people to share a spirit of dissent against personal or institutional injustices. I am a musicologist and I’m going to explore a history of American protest music in the 20th century at this week’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Service.

UU Service
By Jon Sievert
Sun, Sep 6, 10:30am
La Posada de la Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio 15

The United States was founded on dissent, so it should come as no surprise that anti-British and pro-independence songs pre-date the American Revolution. Every major movement in American history has been accompanied by its own collection of protest songs, from slave emancipation to women’s suffrage, anti-war, the labor movement, civil rights, the feminist movement, the environmental movement, the Occupy movement, etc. Unitarian Universalists have been particularly active in fighting for change and protesting injustice throughout history. The power of singing together creates a sense of community that helps groups organize to affect change. I will traces the music’s history in the 20th century through its artists, lyrics, and music, illustrated with compositions and recordings by artists such as Joe Hill, Billie Holliday, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Rage Against the Machine. The usual order of service will be altered somewhat to accommodate the inclusion of numerous interesting musical examples.

Sievert was the staff photographer and a writer and editor for Guitar Player, Keyboard, and Frets magazines for more than 20 years. During that period, and in subsequent years, he interviewed and photographed many of the greatest musicians of our time in all musical idioms. His images have appeared on more than 100 magazine covers, dozens of album/CD covers, in film and television productions, and in hundreds of books and publications worldwide. He and his wife, Wendy, moved full-time to San Miguel in 2003.

The UU Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10:30am at La Posada de la Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15, and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Visitors are invited to attend the service and then join the UUs for coffee and snacks afterwards. The room is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit our website at www.uufsma.org.


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