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Protest Songs and Folk Music

Articles and other information about the role of traditional and contemporary American folk music in social protest.

Songs for Occupy Wall Street
With the media buzzing about Occupy Wall Street not having a soundtrack, we thought it was time we suggested some songs to fill the "void." Check out these songs which would make a good soundtrack for the Occupy movement.

Protest Songs - What are the Best Protest Songs?
Protest songs are a big part of the history of American folk music - from anti-war songs to civil rights songs, labor songs, and songs about peace and justice. What are your favorite protest songs?

Folk Artists for Gay Rights
Folk artists have long championed the quest for civil rights, from the movement for equal rights for African-Americans to the immigrants' movement and the gay rights movement. Here's a look at some folk artists who have long championed the rights of LGBT people.

All About Protest Music
The most remarkable thing about protest music is that it helps people realize they're not alone in feeling a spirit of dissent against certain injustices, whether on a personal or more overarching governmental level.

Why Does Protest Music Work?
Somehow, whether your mode of protest song is a sing-along or more of a lesson, focusing on that simplest of commonalities is something very few politicians, preachers, or teachers can exemplify quite as well as a songwriter. Why is that?

Best Political and Protest Folk Music Artists
A look at some of the best contemporary American protest singers, including artists who sang for the Civil Rights, feminist, and peace movements, and those who have stood for the environment, LGBT rights, and other causes important to people everywhere.

Best in Protest Music 2006
With midterm elections pending in early November, 2006 was a year full of songs protesting the Iraq War, the Bush administration, and various other topics at hand. Here is a list of some of the best and most poignant American folk songs released in protest in 2006.

Songs for Earth Day
In celebration of Earth Day, here's a quick list of great songs celebrating the earth and moving for preservation of the natural beauty around us.

Songs Protesting George Bush & the War in Iraq
There are plenty of new songs coming out that were written in protest to the war and the Bush administration, and this list touches on just a few of the great new topical tunes out there.

Classic Protest Songs
Folk songs cover topics ranging from historical events to songs about food and cars. However, the songs that stick with us the longest are generally songs about overcoming struggle; the moments when the world is quietly hoping for change, but one single Folksinger has the nerve to stand on a stage, open their mouth, and sing out against injustice.

The Immigrants' Movement & Folk Music
A century ago, immigrant workers hit the streets to demand fair work conditions and protection under the law, singing the songs of their labor unions. Today, as immigrant workers demonstrate for the right to work in America as they strive for citizenship, their protest songs take a different direction.

Folksingers and the Civil Rights Movement
On the day that Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and spoke to what was the largest gathering of its kind to ever set foot in Washington, D.C., he was joined by Joan Baez, who began the morning with an African-American spiritual tune called, “Oh Freedom.”

Civil Rights Songs
The songs on this list don't even begin to capture the hundreds of tunes that have been written about race relations in America (and around the world), but if you're looking to learn more about music during the civil rights movement, this is a good primer for your journey.

Top 10 Labor Songs
Folk music has a long relationship with labor struggles, and particularly labor unions. Here's a peak at some of the most notable, most fun, and most poignant labor tunes in Folk history.

Nora Guthrie on 'Woody Guthrie: American Radical Patriot'
Woody Guthrie is widely considered one of the finest political folksingers of all time. But what was his relationship with the US government? A new collection from Rounder Records and the Woody Guthrie archive explores that question. Here's my interview with Nora Guthrie about it.

Books About Protest Music
Learn more about the symbiotic history of American folk music and social change, with this list of some essential books about protest music.

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