Songs of the Civil War Provide Lessons on MPBN

Story posted November 05, 2009

A talk and musical performance by Josephine Cameron '98 titled "Songs of the Civil War Era" became the subject of a news segment that aired Tuesday, November 3, 2009, on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN).

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Josephine Cameron '98

The story wove Cameron's presentation in with the fact that in the audience were 50 fifth-graders from Brunswick's Longfellow Elementary School who are currently studying the Civil War.

"What we're really trying to do here is turn some kids on to the Civil War and trying to expose them to some aspects of Civil War history they might not get a chance to otherwise," says Associate Professor of History Patrick Rael in the segment.

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Patrick Rael

"To have a live concert of this music by a gifted musician is really a special opportunity."

In her October 27 talk and performance in Kanbar Auditorium, Studzinski Recital Hall, Cameron, who also works as the history department's academic coordinator, discussed the new "American music" that began to take shape during the Civil War Era and how this music both reflected and informed attitudes toward African Americans.

She performed songs and spirituals from the battlefield, the home front, the cotton fields and the Underground Railroad.

"And when I teach them the traditional songs and tell them the stories of how they were written, why they were written, and who might have been singing them, they suddenly feel a really personal, deep connection with the music that they didn't before," says Cameron in the story.

Bowdoin on MPBN

Cameron's newest album, American Songs volume 2, a collaboration with Nashville composer Carter Little '98, builds on Cameron's growing catalog of traditional American folk music.

Her musical setting of Sterling A. Brown's poem "Long Track Blues" was recently included in the New York Times bestseller, Hip Hop Speaks to Children, a book/CD set edited by Nikki Giovanni.

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