Music, Expression, & Responding to Current Events: Michael Brown & Ferguson

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You Are Here:, Contemporary Issues, curriculum, music education, popular music, socio-cultural IssuesMusic, Expression, & Responding to Current Events: Michael Brown & Ferguson

A little over a year ago I wrote about Music, expression, and responding to current events in relation to Trayvon Martin. Perhaps it’s the musician side of me but whenever tragedies occur, I often wonder about the ways people use music to mediate their feelings, perspectives, and make meaning of the situation. It should be no surprise that musicians are already responding musically to the tragic killing of Michael Brown and ensuing situation in Ferguson, Missouri. I’m not sure how good of a job we do in music education in connecting curriculum to current events or pivoting in our teaching to address what is happening in our society or local communities, when appropriate.

Whether your students have a desire to express themselves through music in response to the unfolding situation in Ferguson or you find it important to address how people are responding through music, it may be beneficial to address music in relation to Michael Brown. The following three songs are very recent examples of how musicians channel their artistry, expression, and perspectives through music: (Interestingly, the musician GAGE provides space in his recording for others to create and perform their own verse, inviting the world to take part in an important medium of expression.)

J. Cole’s Be Free

G.A.G.E.’s IAm Mike Brown

David Rovics’s His Hands Were in the Air

[updated examples on 8/22/14 – some use explicit language]

VA Pete’s #JusticeForMikeBrown

Dizzy Wright’s I Need Answers

T.I.’s New National Anthem

That One Music Guy’s Hands Up Don’t Shoot (RIP Mike Brown)

Elijah Rashad’s MIKE BROWN Tribute / I Dont Know Why

Mvstermind’s #OPFERGUSON || WAVE 1 & 2 (Westfall)

Ezra Furman’s Ferguson’s Burning

King Carter’s Protect and Serve Us

Sturk’s If They Gunned Me Down

G-Unit’s Ahhh Sh*t

Thornton Mumstheword Frye’s Mike Brown (The Track)

Smitti Boi’s Soufboi #Mike Brown

Michael Anth0ny’s Rest in Power MIKE BROWN

K-Von’s Don’t Shoot – Mike Brown Tribute

Lauren Hill Dedicating Black Rage to MO

Marlawn The Don’s

Trap’s Imagine

Hitman Holla’s #MikeBrown

James Rustad’s A Song for Michael Brown

We can probably expect additional examples as people continue to make sense of the situation and express themselves through music.

You may also be interested in an interview with G.A.G.E about his song IAm Mike Brown and this Atlantic article on J. Cole’s Be Free.

Another story from St. Louis Public Radio on responses by musicians.

PBS News Hour Art Beat story on Artists protesting through song.

Thanks to the Tony Hale Test blog for compiling many tracks as well.

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