MTSU celebrated the new academic year and the First Amendment by throwing open the Tucker Theatre doors Sunday, Aug. 27, for a free public performance of “Freedom Sings.”
The signature program of the First Amendment Center features prominent recording artists playing music that has been banned or censored or sounded a call for social change. Now in its 18th year, “Freedom Sings” tours U.S. college campuses across the nation supplemented by CDs, a documentary DVD and teachers’ guide.
The Aug. 27 performance was part of the university’s fall 2017 Connection Point welcoming series of events for students and their families. Though MTSU students have helped produce “Freedom Sings” shows in Nashville since 2013, this is the first on-campus “Freedom Sings” visit since 2011.
The artists performing in this MTSU visit included:
- Jonell Mosser, the powerhouse Nashville-based singer who’s sung with Vince Gill, Etta James and Kristin Chenoweth and was a member of the supergroup the New Maroons with Ringo Starr, Don Was and Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Her latest album is “Fortunes Lost, Fortunes Told.”
- Bill Lloyd, who wrote and recorded four Top 10 country hits as a member of Foster and Lloyd and continues his successful career as a producer, guitarist and songwriter, as well as a foundation member of the Freedom Singers.
- Joseph Wooten, three-time Grammy winner, solo artist and former keyboardist for the Steve Miller Band and a regular performer with “Freedom Sings.” His most recent album is “Soul of Freedom.”
- Larissa Maestro, a Nashville based multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer and arranger who conducts chamber orchestras, performs in musical theater and in the ‘90s cover band My So-Called Band, and organizes fundraising events for YEAH! Rock Camps and Nashville’s Oasis Center.
- MTSU alumnus Dave Paulson, who’s one of Maestro’s bandmates in My So-Called Band and also is a member of The Privates as well as a solo artist. He’s the music writer for The Tennessean and is “Freedom Sings” founder Ken Paulson’s son.
MTSU College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson, who also serves as president of the First Amendment Center, writes and narrates the multimedia show, which began as a 1999 concert at Nashville’s Bluebird Café. It aims to illustrate through music four of the basic liberties guaranteed by America’s First Amendment: freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition the government.
“The Freedom Sings show has toured college campuses all over America and we’re pleased to bring it back to its roots in middle Tennessee,” Paulson said.
“It’s the perfect show for a new generation that has seen so much political divisiveness. Through music spanning 60 years, they hear the story of how so many have used their freedom of speech to make this a more perfect union.”
You can watch clips from the show above.
The mind-boggling “Freedom Sings” playlist covers more than six decades and ranges from the Beatles to Public Enemy, from Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” to Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” and Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls).”
MTSU Department of Media Arts and Department of Recording Industry student crews once again provided the professional-caliber production for the Sunday afternoon performance while capturing more video and audio for the “Freedom Sings” archives.
You can learn more about “Freedom Sings” at www.mtsu.edu/freedomsings. The concert was one of several MTSU Connection Point events sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs in the first few days of the new academic year to encourage student engagement and involvement in various on-campus activities. For more information on Connection Point, visit www.mtsu.edu/stuaff/connect.
— Gina Fann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here is an extended look at Sunday’s performance: