But who in the world is Paul Robeson?
Hard to find out…as he was black listed as were many folk artists in the early 1950’s during the McCarthy era….I researched online, and found some very interesting Utube video’s in refernce to Paul Robeson and the riots in Peekskill.
I also discovered this from Dirty Linen:
Dirty Linen June-July 1998
More a historical document than a musical recording, Paul Robeson’s Peace Arch Concerts cannot be considered apart from their time and place. Robeson possessed an unbelievable array of natural gifts. He was a football All-American, Phi Beta Kappa, lawyer, actor, singer, civil rights activist, labor supporter, and political leader - an amazing string of accomplishments for a former slave’s son in the early part of this century. Yet the American government needed only one term to describe Robeson: Communist. In 1950, they revoked his passport, claiming Robeson’s “travel abroad would be contrary to the best interests of the United States.” A top international concert draw, Robeson was stripped of his dignity and freedom, not to mention his livelihood. The seeds of the first Peace Arch concert were planted when Harvey Murphy, a leader of British Columbia’s Mine, Mill and Smelters Workers’ Union, invited Robeson to their 1952 convention in Vancouver.
Although Americans didn’t need passports to visit Canada, the State Department still denied Robeson entrance. In defiance, Murphy organized a concert in Blaine, Washington’s Peace Arch Park. On May 18, 1952, Robeson’s supporters drove a flat-bed truck to within a foot of the Canadian border on which Robeson performed for nearly 40,000 delirious, mostly Canadian, fans and unionists. Accompanied only by an upright piano, Robeson’s serene, ethereal baritone runs through a collection of timeless folk and labor songs. “Joe Hill,” a lament for a miner and union leader gunned down by corporate “copper bosses,” is to workers what “Amazing Grace” is to a church congregation. With his operatic power and grace, folk songs such as the Scottish “Loch Lomond” become spirituals in Robeson’s hands. His introduction adds considerable meaning to “No More Auction Block,” a song of a slave’s dreams of freedom. The song “comes from the very depth of the struggle of my people in America,” he says. “My father might have sung it….He must have sung it.” “Ol’ Man River,” Robeson’s defining number, becomes a song of determination rather than despair.
On the heels of the concert’s success, a second Peace Arch concert took place the following year. This time, Robeson added spirituals such as “Go Down Moses,” “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,” and “Jacob’s Ladder.” (Only “Joe Hill” returns from the previous year). He transforms a theme from Beethoven’s Ninth into a song of protest and solidarity. On “Thou Silent Autumn Night” he displays his spine-tingling vocal range, while the poignant Gaelic folk song “Without Thee” and the Chinese march “Chin Chin” show his versatility. The highlight of the 1953 show is Robeson’s 12-minute concluding speech, which remains a powerful synopsis of his political and social beliefs. Delivered with a preacher’s inflection, his words of freedom, peace, and equality presage those of Martin Luther King at least a decade ahead of their time. As his 100th birthday approaches, Paul Robeson’s words and music belong in the classroom, as well as the living room. - Mark Greilsamer (San Francisco, CA)
Food for thought. Robeson, Seeger, Guthrie were almost lynched, yet we’ve no protest songs from this concert/event to document.