Music

Freedom Music

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Martin Smith talks to Denys Baptiste about his new album, the civil rights movement and the struggle for freedom and justice today.

Denys Baptiste is a saxophone player from west London. His first album, Be Where You Are, was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and won a Music of Black Origin (Mobo) award. His wonderful new album Let Freedom Ring! is a tribute to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement.

What were your musical influences when you were growing up?

Music, Dreams and Desire

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Mike Gonzalez commemorates the extraordinary music of the Buena Vista Social Club.

The last time I saw Rubén González play piano he finished one tune with a visual joke: running his fingers up the keyboard, he continued beyond the edge of the piano, playing in the air. It was as if his extraordinary dexterity and skill had conquered what was there and needed some new challenges. Bumping into him a little later in a bar near the theatre, I realized how tiny he was, and how bent and arthritic his hands were. It made his artistry even more astonishing.

Obituary: How It Would Feel to be Free

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Mike Hobart pays tribute to the black singer and songwriter Nina Simone who died last month.

Nina Simone, who died recently aged 70, was one of the most compelling of the many innovative musical figures that were thrown up by the US civil rights movement in the 1960s. Like many black musicians of the time she believed music had a clear political purpose. Contrary to many of her obituary notices, it was a belief she carried throughout her adult life, and her deeply soulful voice, theatricality and often playful approach to music was allied to an uncompromisingly public political commitment to human emancipation.

Singing for the Common Folk

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Jimmy Ross pays tribute to the Scottish radical Hamish Henderson.

The song, 'The Freedom Come All Ye', is a triumphant combination of internationalism, anti-imperialism and a call for world revolution. It has often been proposed as an alternative Scottish national anthem (although many Scots would struggle to understand the words) but its author, Hamish Henderson, who died last month at the age of 82, preferred to see it as an international anthem:

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