Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Joan Baez: We Shall Overcome



Live at Woodstock, NY: 1969.

Background: Gospel
Original version: Written by Rev. Charles Tindley, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1901.
Current adaptation: Zilphia Horton, Guy Carawan, Frank Hamilton, and Pete Seeger, in 1947. 


The song became associated with the American Civil Rights movement in 1959. Pete Seeger has publicly, in concert, credited Guy Carawan with the primary role in teaching and popularizing the song within the Civil Rights Movement. Equally noteworthy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made use of "we shall overcome" in the final Sunday March 31, 1968 speech before his assassination.

Even so, it was singers such as Pete Segger who brought it to a wider listening audience, as Wikipedia puts it:
Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts in the North and helped make it widely known. Since its rise to prominence, the song, and songs based on it, have been used in a variety of protests worldwide.

In August 1963, folksinger Joan Baez memorably led a crowd of 300,000 in singing "We Shall Overcome" at the Lincoln Memorial during A. Philip Randolph's March on Washington. President Lyndon Johnson used the phrase "we shall overcome" in addressing Congress on March 15, 1965, following violent, "bloody Sunday" attacks on civil rights demonstrators during the Selma to Montgomery marches, thus legitimizing the protest movement.
The song made its first recorded appearance as "We Shall Overcome" (rather than "We Will Overcome") in 1952 on a disc recorded by Laura Duncan (soloist) and The Jewish Young Singers (chorus) conducted by Robert De Cormier co-produced by Ernie Lieberman and Irwin Silber on Hootenany Records (Hoot 104-A) (Folkways, FN 2513, BCD15720), where it is identified as a Negro Spiritual.
We Shall Overcome
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.


We shall be all right,
We shall be all right,
We shall be all right, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

We shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.


We are not afraid, O Lord, O Lord
We are not afraid,
We are not afraid, today


Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.


We shall overcome,O Lord, O Lord
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

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