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A History of American Protest Music

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. As a musicologist, I’ll explore a history of American protest music in the 20th century at this week’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Service.

UU Service
“A History of American Protest Music”
Sun, Feb 14, 10:30am
Hotel 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 from slave emancipation to women’s suffrage, anti-war, the labor movement, civil rights, the feminist movement, the environmental movement, the Occupy movement has been accompanied by its own collection of protest songs. Unitarian Universalists have been particularly active in fighting for change and protesting injustice throughout its history. The power of singing together creates a sense of community that helps groups organize to affect change. We’ll trace 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 Holiday, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Louis Armstrong. The usual order of service will be altered somewhat to accommodate the inclusion of numerous interesting musical examples.

The UU Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10:30am at Hotel 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

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.


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