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Paul Robeson, born in 1898, was more than an All-American football player, an accomplished actor, and Columbia Law School graduate - he was the voice of a dream.
Paul spent his life (1898 to 1976) in an uphill battle. The first Black man to present a concert program consisting strictly of African-American spirituals, the man for whom Jerome Kern wrote "Old Man River," and the first Black man to portray Othello on Broadway, Robeson's popularity in America and world-wide made him the most recognized Black man in the world. After his huge initial successes in music and theater, he used the respect given to him by the American people to speak out for world peace, civil rights, and workers rights around the world. In doing so, he was tagged with Senator Joe McCarthy's "red" blacklist and Robeson effectively volunteered his personal freedom and his career for the causes he believed in.
The Paul Robeson albums presented here - THE PEACE ARCH CONCERTS and the Langston Hughes' inspired FREEDOM TRAIN, are historical proof that a citizens' right to freedom in the United States was not always guaranteed by the right of birth or citizenship. Whether it was singing on the U.S./Canadian border after having been restricted from leaving the country or giving a powerful concert to union workers in Wales by way of the telephone, Robeson's gift of uplifting and leading people was unequaled. The reverent quality of Robeson's deep-throated tenor illustrated songs of his people, songs of political protest, and songs of beauty as no one ever had before. And Paul's voice is as inspiring now as it was when his struggle for equality first began.
Paul believed that as an American citizen you should fight for what you believe in and suffered many consequences because of it. Becoming blacklisted, being prohibited from traveling outside of the United States, and effectively having his career relegated into oblivion were the most significant of the many consequences he endured. Listening to Robeson's plea for civil equality through his commanding speeches and riveting songs, Robeson's talent, Robeson's passion, and Robeson's power are unparalleled. Both FREEDOM TRAIN and THE PEACE ARCH CONCERTS are albums outlining a piece of history that will never be forgotten.
Both albums feature extensive liner notes telling Robeson's story, and the story behind the music on the albums, and have generated phenomenal reviews. These albums are more than just music. They are living, singing history.
Currently available from Folk Era Records:
The Peace Arch Concerts - PRO1442D - Order Now!
Freedom Train - PRO1447D - Order Now!