New Educational Programs Will Explain Music’s Role in History, Free Speech

Country Music Hall of Fame logoDrawing on popular music’s relationship with history and free speech, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will offer two new educational programs to students in 2016 through a partnership with the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center.

On February 22 and 29, the museum will host a performance of Freedom Sings, the story of free speech in America as told through rock, pop, hip-hop, and country music. The cast revisits turning points in five decades of contemporary history, with songs from Loretta Lynn and the Beatles to today’s top hits. Freedom Sings is in its fifteenth year of touring American colleges and communities. For the museum performance, Freedom Sings will be presented to grades 9 to 12.

In addition, a new program titled Music Matters: The Songs That Shaped America, is being developed for grades 6 to 8. The presentation will feature a band of Nashville musicians telling the stories of some of America’s most powerful songs and the events that inspired them. Aligned with middle school social studies curriculum, the program explores the ways in which music has reflected society and changed the way Americans see the world. Through an interactive and educational concert experience, students are better able to understand historical events and challenging subject matter. Music Matters will be presented on April 8 and the program is 75 minutes long.

Both programs are free to Title I schools, and transportation subsidies may be available to qualifying schools.

“The late Mr. John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center, famously spent his life fighting for freedom and justice. As a board member and champion of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, he understood the vital role that music plays in ongoing dialogue about the social issues of our day. Without his unparalleled support, the museum would not be what it is today,” said museum CEO Kyle Young. “We’re thrilled to partner with the First Amendment Center to offer these important programs as an extension of the museum experience and to further support the great work Mr. Seigenthaler initiated years ago.”

“These two programs tell the vibrant story of our nation through the power and passion of music,” said Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center and author of both shows. “From the troubadours of the eighteenth century to contemporary pop, rock and hip-hop, free expression has been at the heart of America’s music.”

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center has offices at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and at the John Seigenthaler Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues through education, information and entertainment.


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Craig Shelburne is the General Manager at MusicRow.

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