The week, The Avid Listener brings you the latest installment in my series of essays about protest music. This week’s essay is about a labor songbook commissioned by the CIO (The Congress of Industrial Organizations) in the late 1930s. The CIO asked Zilphia Horton to put the songbook together. Who was Zilphia Horton, you ask? Here’s a teaser from my essay:
“Horton was an obvious choice for the commission. She was director of music at Highlander Folk School and regularly taught songs, singing, and agitprop theater there. She frequently traveled to labor hotspots, supporting strikers with her accordion and rich alto voice, and training workers on site in the use of music in protest. She also had experience putting together songbooks: by the end of 1938, at least five had been published at Highlander under her direction for her students to use. But what should have been a simple collection for the CIO became a project that imploded under the weight of copyright issues, personal disputes, and political panic.”
I’ve been working on Zilphia Horton’s labor songs for a while now, and gave conference presentations last fall and spring that go into much more detail. It’s a rich story, one I’ll be mining for a while.
If we had timed this well, we would have run my new essay about Zilphia Horton, labor songs, and the CIO on Labor Day. But we didn’t, the essay is out today instead, and you can read the whole thing here. 🙂
HEY, GAMERS! Stay tuned for next week’s essay: “How It’s Meant to be Heard: Authenticity and Game Music” by William Gibbons.
The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.