In preparation for 2009′s Black History Month in February, Brainstorm Media, Time Life, TV One and MarVista Entertainment have teamed up to produce a documentary on the civil rights movement. Unlike other docs on the same subject, the focus of Let Freedom Sing will be how music helped to inspire the movement.
Directed by Jon Goodman, Emmy-winning filmmaker of the National Geographic Explorer series and son of radio personality George W. Goodman Sr., the doc will examine the interaction between music and the movement by using footage from the time mixed with interviews with musicians, activists, music industry execs and people who were involved in fighting for civil rights. Key interviews include U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young; actress Ruby Dee, and musicians Pete Seeger, Gladys Knight, Jimmy Carter and the Blind Boys of Alabama, Ruth Brown, Jerry Butler and Chuck D.
Michael Jacobs, president of MarVista Entertainment, had been looking for a project that could be produced in Massachusetts, where the company has offices, in order to take advantage of the state’s tax credit. ‘Boston has a deep documentary community, and the crew base and the knowledge base here is phenomenal so it was a natural fit,’ he says. He says the focus on the music also sets this doc apart from other docs on the civil rights era. ‘Did the music shape the civil rights era or did the civil rights era shape the music?’ he asks. ‘Artists and musicians of that time were trying to put forth in their works of art what was reflective of the society at the time.’
‘I consider myself fortunate to have grown up during one of the most turbulent periods in our nation’s history,’ says Goodman. ‘For a kid who always loved music and wanted to make television shows, the times were as exhilarating as they were often frightening and bewildering. But there was never any doubt that I was a young eyewitness to history. It was hard to miss. I vividly recall my father telling me, ‘Son, mark my words. Things will be different for your generation.’ And indeed they have been, perhaps beyond his wildest dreams.’
Let Freedom Sing will debut on TV One on Sunday February 15, 2009, during Black History Month. Time Life will be releasing a three CD boxset in January and the DVD after the film airs.