SONGS OF CONSCIENCE,
SOUNDS OF FREEDOM
Curated by the GRAMMY Museum® in Los Angeles, the exhibit examines the role music has played in informing and inspiring social consciousness throughout American history. Charting a path from spirituals that were sung by enslaved people in America and the labor movement struggles that Woody Guthrie wrote about in songs like “1913 Massacre,” to the mass movement of music and art that helped to stir action during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, to the continued fight for racial justice in America today, the exhibit spans time and genre to tell the stories of music’s role as a source of inspiration and an educator.
Dave Specter’s powerful and timely new song, “The Ballad of George Floyd” featuring Billy Branch on vocals and harmonica. Specter also sings and plays guitar on the track. With Brother John Kattke on keyboards and Danny Shaffer on acoustic guitar.
“I wrote the song a few days after George Floyd was murdered and the lyrics pretty much wrote themselves. George Floyd didn’t die in vain. He helped spark a worldwide movement for justice and change. I’m proud to collaborate with the great Chicago bluesman Billy Branch on this tune. We share the same vision and are inspired by the words of John Lewis: ‘If it hadn’t been for music, the civil rights movement would’ve been like a bird without wings.'” Dave Specter.
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Evan F. Moore wrote in the Chicago SunTimes:
“When Chicago bluesman Dave Specter watched the video of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee on the neck of George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds, causing his death, he knew that the times — pandemic and all — called for more than the usual platitudes.
Specter did what he does best, but with a bit more grit and vigor: He wrote a protest anthem, “The Ballad of George Floyd.”
He’s a bluesman who got the blues watching police brutality.
“I was in shock — disbelief,” said Specter of the incident. “There’s a dark history in Chicago of police brutality. Think about the injustice that’s happened that we don’t even know about. Now with everyone having their phones, taking videos, we’re seeing it a lot more. And I know there’s terrible violence — terrible gang violence — but the overreach by law enforcement is very disconcerting, alarming and shocking.
“I’ve come to realize that channeling my thoughts and my expression through music is really an important part of who I am. And I think it’s a really good outlet for me to use my music to write and create, based on, unfortunately, the turmoil and troubles that are happening in this country. The events surrounding George Floyd’s death were so shocking to me that the song pretty much wrote itself.”
The musical association between Billy Branch & Dave Specter for the release of “The Ballad of George Floyd” has caused quite a spark. This poignant tune completed a triptych of social and political songs Dave Specter started over a year ago.
How Low Can One Man Go? with guest musician Jorma Kaukonen (of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna fame) and March Through the Darkness, featuring Brother John Kattke, came out on his bestselling album Blues from the Inside Out. This album has been released by Delmark on LP and CD as well as a downloadable digital format.
You can also see, sample, download, order CDs/LPs or streaming Dave Specter’s amazing discography on Delmark Records.
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