Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom examines the role of music in informing and inspiring social consciousness throughout American history. Charting a path from spirituals that were sung by enslaved people in America, to the labor movement struggles that Guthrie wrote about in songs like “1913 Massacre,” to the mass movement of music and art that helped to stir action during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to the continued fight for racial justice in America today, the exhibit spans time and genre to tell the stories of music’s role as an inspiration and an educator.
The original Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom special exhibit was first on display at the GRAMMY Museum® when it opened in Los Angeles in 2008. In the 13 years since that initial run, the exhibit has been updated to include the growing Black Lives Matter movement and how music from artists like Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino continue the traditions of using music to inspire social progress.
The exhibit also tells the story of Tulsa’s history of racial violence through the eyes and sounds of the upcoming Fire in Little Africa multimedia project. How the Tulsa Race Massacre, which left hundreds dead and dozens of Tulsa city blocks burned and looted at the hands of a white mob, continues to shape life in Tulsa is told through a new album collaboration by Oklahoma rappers and producers. Visitors can see lyrics and other memorabilia related to the project and learn how songs of conscience from Tulsa creators continue to chime the sounds of freedom.
- Handwritten lyrics from Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Shemekia Copeland, H.E.R., and others
- Instruments from Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Josh White, John Mellencamp, and more
- “Song Spotlights” that tell the stories of such landmark protest songs as “Strange Fruit,” “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and others
- Rare performance footage and interviews with prominent topical songwriters
- An interactive history of protest music in America