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The Protest Song Is Not Dead

The singer Gregory Porter's music is usually classified as jazz, but his soulful voice fits in Jason King's wide-ranging playlist of protest music.
Shawn Peters
/
Courtesy of the artist
The singer Gregory Porter's music is usually classified as jazz, but his soulful voice fits in Jason King's wide-ranging playlist of protest music.

When Prince released his new song, "Baltimore," in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray, it was striking mostly because it was an original; it's unusual to hear protest music from today's mainstream pop stars. But R&B, rap and soul musicians have always found ways to contribute during turbulent times, says NPR Music writer Jason King.

To prove his point, King has curated a 100-hour playlist of protest songs that spans decades — from the O'Jays and Nina Simone to D'Angelo, Gregory Porter and John Legend. That playlist is streaming on I'll Take You There, NPR Music's R&B channel, through the long weekend.

King joined NPR's Audie Cornish to talk about his choices. You can hear their conversation at the audio link above before heading over to the stream.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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