History of Music and Politics in the US

LOS ANGELES -- The GRAMMY Museum(SM) will open to the public on Saturday, Dec. 6 with the debut of Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom -- the first major museum exhibition to explore the 200-year history of music and politics in America, and music's role as a political force in society.

"We are thrilled to open The GRAMMY Museum with an unprecedented exhibition so important and relevant to our country today," said Museum Executive Director Robert Santelli. "Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom shows just how empowering music can be, and we hope to inspire intelligent discourse about the role of music and how it continues to change the world."

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Unique in its historical scope, the exhibition explores how music has long given Americans a fundamental means for enacting political values. Through artifacts, images, multimedia kiosks, film, and music, Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom investigates the fundamental connection between music and politics, the extent and effectiveness of political song in American history, the creative process of political songwriting, and music's social function as a vital source for information, inspiration, and public protest.

Bringing together more than 100 diverse artifacts and 70 rare photographs from government archives and private collections, the exhibition features a wide-ranging array of items, including:

* Guitars and banjo belonging to Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Bob Dylan

* 1848 edition of The Anti-Slavery Harp, an abolitionist songbook

* Grandmaster Flash's turntables

* 1816 edition of "The Star Spangled Banner"

* Handwritten lyrics from Patti Smith, Tom Morello, Tim McGraw, and others

* John Philip Sousa's conducting baton and gloves

* Labor organizer Joe Hill's "My Last Will"

* J. Edgar Hoover's FBI summary of the MC5

* The iPod of a U.S. soldier serving a tour of duty in Iraq.

Five specially-made documentary films by noted documentarian Jim Brown explore key figures in the history of music and politics, with commentary from contemporary GRAMMY([R]) winners, while listening stations throughout the exhibit enable visitors to hear more than 100 topical songs from the history of American music.

"We are seeking to move beyond common assumptions about music as mere entertainment and spark awareness about its function as a social and political force," said Daniel Cavicchi, the exhibition's guest curator and Associate Professor of American Studies, Rhode Island School of Design. "We want to show that political uses of music are part of mainstream participation in American society. While the institutions of government give elected officials the authority to shape policy and create law, the power of music enables American citizens to publicly express their needs and create the debate and discussion necessary in a democracy."

Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom will be on display at The GRAMMY Museum on the 2nd floor -- where original temporary exhibits will be showcased on a rotating basis -- through December 2009 before touring nationally.

The GRAMMY Museum will celebrate its grand opening with a slate of activities December 3-7, 2008, and will present educational and public programs related to Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom throughout 2009. The Museum's grand opening will mark the culmination of the GRAMMY([R]) Awards' milestone 50th Celebration.

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