We Shall Overcome: A Song that Changed the World

We Shall Overcome: A Song that Changed the World
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Release Date
January 18, 2010
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“We Shall Overcome” isn’t a complicated piece of music. The first verse has only twenty-two words, most of them repeated. The melody is straightforward. The chords are basic. Yet the song has had a profound effect on people throughout the United States—and the world. In clear, accessible language Stuart Stotts explores the roots of the tune and the lyrics in traditional African music and Christian hymns. He demonstrates the key role “We Shall Overcome” played in the civil rights, labor, and anti-war movements in America. And he traces the song’s transformation into an international anthem. With its dramatic stories and memorable quotes, this saga of a famous piece of music offers a unique way of looking at social history. Author’s note, bibliography, source notes, index.

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The Song that Changed the World
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Reader reviewed by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, The Original H.I.R. (Historical Investigative Reporter)

As a self-proclaimed historical investigative reporter, I am always on the lookout for any book that bravely shines rare light on almost-forgotten historical events, or unravels a distant mystery. And when I find such a book, why, I'm in heaven. We Shall Overcome: A Song that Changed the World, by Stuart Stotts, is just such a book, and has definitely brought a bit of heaven into my life.

In We Shall Overcome, Stotts examines the simple yet powerful words of the song people the world over have come to know and love:

We shall overcome.
We shall overcome.
We shall overcome someday.
Deep in my heart, I do believe that...
We shall overcome someday.

Stotts tracks this hauntingly-beautiful song from its hazy African and spiritual beginnings, through the back-breaking years of slavery, past the shame of the Civil Rights era, right up to that glorious night when Barack Obama won the bid for the American presidency.

Expertly illlustrated by talented artist Terrance Cummings, Stotts' book makes an attractive package for middle graders. It is bright and colorful and word-efficient, with to-the-point dialog that young readers can understand and appreciate. Even better, it brings history to life and offers a unique way of examining the social conditions of times long past, and the power of simple words to transform those conditions into something much easier for the human soul to bear.

Stotts proves himself more than just an author with this book; he earns the title of historian. He is also an accomplished songwriter, and has included a CD of the song, We Shall Overcome, for his teen readers to enjoy.

Whatever you do, don't miss out on this thoughtful, well-researched, bitter-sweet reference book by Stuart Stotts. You'll be glad you added it to your collection.
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