Celebrating our rights with ‘Freedom Sings’

Celebrating our rights with ‘Freedom Sings’

Renowned musicians celebrated the First Amendment in song on Nov. 2 during a special performance of “Freedom Sings” in MTSU’s Tucker Theatre.

Freedom Sings graphic webPerformers include Ashley Cleveland, Dave Coleman, Craig Krampf, Bill Lloyd, Jonell Mosser, Jason White and Joseph Wooten.

They told the story of three centuries of banned or censored music in the United States, including several protest songs from the 1960s still being used today, most notably by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The free public multimedia performance was sponsored by the Liberty Tree Initiative, the campus-grant program of “1 for All,” a national, nonpartisan campaign to raise awareness and understanding about the First Amendment.

The event was sponsored at MTSU by the McCormick Foundation, the First Amendment Center, the Newseum, the American Society of News Editors and the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information and hosted by the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies in MTSU’s College of Mass Communication.

The all-star band of “Freedom Sings” harmonizes during their Nov. 2 performance at MTSU’s Tucker Theatre. From left are Jonell Mosser, Ashley Cleveland, Jason White and Joseph Wooten. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Before the performance, visitors were able to view the original music associated with the songs featured in “Freedom Sings” via a Tucker Theatre lobby exhibit of original sound recordings, sheet music, music books, photographs and more from the collections of MTSU’s Center for Popular Music.

“Some you’d recognize as being protest songs, but people have been surprised to find out what other songs were banned or censored,” said Lucinda Cockrell, the center’s assistant director and archivist.

After the show, several “Freedom Sings” performers, including Lloyd and Krampf, joined a panel discussion on the First Amendment’s importance to free expression and creativity in music. The discussion, moderated by Dr. Paul Fischer from MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, was in Room 164 of the new College of Education Building. (Watch a brief slideshow from the day’s events here.)

“Freedom Sings” began in 1999 with a concert at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and began touring nationwide in 2000.

“Freedom Sings never fails to inspire me,” said Dr. Deborah Gump, who directs the Seigenthaler Chair. “When Freedom Sings came to MTSU in 2009, it was my first year on campus. Once again, I was blown away by how packed Tucker was and how pumped the audience was.”

“Freedom Sings” is a national program of the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center. The Nashville-based The First Amendment Center works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education.

The Seigenthaler Chair supports a variety of activities related to free-speech and free-press rights, including welcoming visiting professors of First Amendment studies and lecturers who address issues of freedom of speech and press, along with funding research, seminars and meetings related to free expression.

For more information about “Freedom Sings,” including details about the performers, visit For more information about “1 for All,” visit