NASHVILLE — Nashville Mayor Karl Dean on Tuesday honored Freedom Sings, a celebration of free speech and music that tours college campuses across the nation, on the occasion of its 15th anniversary, calling it a “critically acclaimed, multimedia experience.”
The mayor appeared at The Bluebird Café between two sold-out anniversary concerts held at the Nashville music landmark to celebrate Freedom Sings’ anniversary.
Freedom Sings, the mayor said in a proclamation, tells an “entertaining, engaging and inspiring story of free speech in America” through “rock, pop, hip-hop and country music.”
The signature program of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center, Freedom Sings features prominent recording artists playing music that has been banned or censored, or has sounded a call for social change.
Dean said Freedom Sings “invited audiences to experience the First Amendment in a new way.”
Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center and dean of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University, expressed his “deepest thanks to the mayor for his incredible support of the music in Music City.”
The Nashville-based center chose to mark Freedom Sings’ birthday during its annual pilgrimage to The Bluebird Café, a 90-seat venue that has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter’s performance space. It is one of the backdrops used in the hit ABC TV series “Nashville.”
The two 15th anniversary shows included performances by Grammy winners Janis Ian, Ashley Cleveland and Don Henry, Bill Lloyd, Kim Richey, Gretchen Peters, Webb Wilder, Will Kimbrough, Jonell Mosser, Lari White, Joseph Wooten, Dez Dickerson and more. The band includes Craig Krampf, Dave Pomeroy, Danny Flowers, E-Street Band member Garry Tallent and Lloyd.
Students from MTSU’s Mass Communication college worked behind the scenes at both concerts. They deployed the college’s $1.4 million mobile video production lab, managed social media content, helped with public relations and covered the event for MTSU’s student media outlets. (Read about their experiences here.)
The Freedom Sings project was launched by the center in 1999 with a performance at the Bluebird. Since then, it has toured the United States under the direction of Paulson and Gene Policinski, the institute’s chief operating officer and senior vice president of the center. CDs, a documentary and teachers’ guides have supplemented the show.
The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, and the rights to assemble and to petition the government.
Founded by legendary journalist John Seigenthaler in 1991, the center is a program of the Newseum Institute, the education and outreach partner of the Newseum, an interactive museum of news and journalism located in Washington, D.C. The center has offices in the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and at the Newseum.
Paulson was appointed dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication in July 2013. It is the fifth-largest mass-communication college in the nation and is the only one that features departments of recording industry, journalism and electronic media communication.
— Andrew Oppmann (firstname.lastname@example.org)