For people of African descent, music constitutes a unique domain of expression. From traditional West African drumming to South African kwaito, from spirituals to hip-hop, Black life and history has been dynamically displayed and contested through sound. Shana Redmond excavates the sonic histories of these communities through a genre emblematic of Black solidarity and citizenship: anthems. An interdisciplinary cultural history, Anthem reveals how this "e;sound franchise"e; contributed to the growth and mobilization of the modern, Black citizen. Providing new political frames and aesthetic articulations for protest organizations and activist-musicians, Redmond reveals the anthem as a crucial musical form following World War I.
Beginning with the premise that an analysis of the composition, performance, and uses of Black anthems allows for a more complex reading of racial and political formations within the twentieth century, Redmond expands our understanding of how and why diaspora was a formative conceptual and political framework of modern Black identity. By tracing key compositions and performances around the world--from James Weldon Johnson's "e;Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing"e; that mobilized the NAACP to Nina Simone's "e;To Be Young, Gifted & Black"e; which became the Black National Anthem of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)--Anthem develops a robust recording of Black social movements in the twentieth century that will forever alter the way you hear race and nation.