November 12, 2014

Who Should Sing "Ol' Man River"?

The Lives of an American Song

What can the history of one Broadway song reveal about American race relations? In Who Should Sing Ol' Man River?: The Lives of an American Song, now available through Amazon and Oxford University Press, musicologist Todd Decker explores how one show tune has been shaped and reshaped over time. Decker joined Hold That Thought to share how "Ol' Man River" transformed from a Broadway ballad into a dance ditty, an activist anthem, and more. 

 

"Black or white, male or female - anyone who sings "Ol' Man River" must confront and consider its charged racial content and activist history."

 


AUDIO "OL' MAN RIVER": CHER, 1966; TITO RODRIGUEZ, 1958; FRANK SINATRA, 1963; RAVENS, 1947; INTERNET ARCHIVE: PAUL ROBESON, 1932KENN SISSON ORCHESTRA, 1927.

This podcast was originally released in fall 2013 as part of the American Identities series.