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“Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony” 

April 6, 2006 @ 7:00 pm 9:00 pm EDT

Lee Hirsch’s 2002 film Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony documents South African musicians, playwrights, poets and activists as they recall the struggle against apartheid from the 1940s to the 1990s that stripped black citizens of South Africa of basic human rights, and the important role that music played in that struggle. The documentary uses a mixture of interviews, musical performances and historical film footage. Among the South Africans who take part are Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela and others. The freedom songs heard in the film have an important historical context. Particularly in the United States, freedom songs have referred to protest songs of the abolitionist, civil rights, and labor movements. Yet, in South Africa, the songs take on a different meaning, referring to a unique collection of songs tied to the struggle for racial equality during the 20th century. Stylistically, freedom songs originated in choir as a unifying and prevalent genre that combined southern African signing traditions with Christian hymns. Most of the songs have simple melodies and are sung a cappella. More importantly, they are composed and sung in groups, and often reflect changing political circumstances and attitudes. The film is bookmarked by the exhumation of the remains of Vuyisile Mini, trade union organizer, member of the African National Congress, and composer of “Beware Verwoerd” and other protest songs. Mini was executed by the apartheid regime in 1964.

3361 6th Ave
Troy, 12181 United States
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