Your Connection To Jazz, Blues and NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Jazz

Add these powerful songs to your Juneteenth playlist

Aretha Franklin
Henny Ray Abrams/ASSOCIATED PRESS
/
FR151332 AP
Aretha Franklin performs at the 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert at Madison Square Garden in New York, 2009.

Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, officially became a federal and Washington state holiday last year. Observing Juneteenth offers opportunity for reflection and celebration, accompanied by great music.

On June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Union Army General Gordon Granger reached Galveston, Texas. He brought news to the enslaved Black people there that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were now "forever free."

Slavery did not end on that day, as some slave owners would not release their slaves until forced to, but the historic moment inspired an annual celebration.

Here are four songs celebrating the resilience and spirit of Black Americans to add to your Juneteenth playlist:

1. The title track of Jon Batiste's 2022 multi-Grammy-winning album "We Are" is a modern anthem of unity.

Jon Batiste - WE ARE (Visualizer)

2. Rhiannon Gidden's update of the Staple Singers 1965 classic "Freedom Highway" reminds us of the work that still needs to be done.

Rhiannon Giddens - "Freedom Highway" (Recorded Live for World Cafe)

3. Aretha Franklin first recorded "Never Gonna Break My Faith" in 2006, as a duet with Mary J. Blige. Released on June 19, 2020, this version with Franklin and the Boys Choir of Harlem is a soaring statement of hope and strength.

Aretha Franklin - Never Gonna Break My Faith (Official Video) ft. The Boys Choir of Harlem

4. Back to Batiste, who delivers joy like no other modern performer. His Grammy-winning video "Freedom" belongs on the Juneteenth playlist, too.

Related Content