Laura Burhenn is a new revolutionist. She examines the question:
“What does a revolution look like today, and what are we fighting for?”
Laura presented her version of protest through song at the Music District workshop, “Shout it Out,” in Fort Collins, CO on November 22, 2016. She speaks of the threads of change in her TED Talk and through her band the Mynabirds.
She is accustom to the spotlight and chooses to use it to make a difference in this world. Laura is using her voice through creative projects in an attempt to help heal the nation. She hopes to see a significant shift occurring in thought leaders, as the country experiences this division. The idea is to use art as a powerful form of protest. Laura explained how she devoted her voice to protest in Under the Radar Magazine interview in September of 2012.
“Shout it Out,” was an open dialogue of writing, reflecting, and sharing. Laura expressed hopeful intentions of it being a refuge for the artist who was contemplating where to put their emotions.
Participants had moments to reflect on what it means to them to protest through song and write about it. Everyone shared what they wrote with the group. Attendees were from places as far as South Africa who spoke of protest songs from around the globe. In South Africa, some of the most turbulent times brought people together singing in pubs, enjoying songs of protest because they could not openly protest the government. There is a beauty in people gathering for music in times of trouble and strife.
There was a feeling of decompression in the room from the most recent election in almost every piece of writing. Wide age ranges brought viewpoints from many revolutions that have happened for centuries. The perspectives were all very different, yet the willingness to share was outpouring.
Music has been a form of protest throughout the ages. Music is a mechanism that artist use to evoke emotion or propel change. There is a movement rising in the arts community that is using art to protest the transitional state of the nation.
The history of protest songs is rich. As early as the 1900’s, songs were a form of protest. In the days of slave trading, a protest song was more of an allegory for the present status of the slaves. Sometimes the songs were code although spiritual in nature. The Library of Congress tells the story of the African American Spirituals, “Because the Underground Railroad of the mid- nineteenth century used terminology from railroads as a secret language for assisting slaves to freedom, it is often speculated that songs like I got my ticket may have been a code for escape.”
In the 1960’s the song “Dancing in the Streets” was released just as the Vietnam War escalated. It became “a call to arms” song, for protesters. Time happens and the world ages, but it is clear that music is the vehicle of peace.