Sunday November 20, 2016

Searching for the soundtrack of the Underground Railroad

Listen 23:22

Khari McClelland has read loads of history books about black slaves who left the United States in the 19th-century to find freedom in Canada. But he's always felt one thing was missing from stories of the Underground Railroad: music.

Producer Jodie Martinson followed Khari McClelland on a six-week journey to learn more about the music that guided slaves northward. This trek was personal. Among the people heading north was Khari's great, great, great grandmother, Kizzy. Over the course of his journey, McClelland discovered that the songs of the past still have a lot to say to whoever will listen.

Jodie Martinson's documentary about Khari's road trip is called Songs to Guide Us. Her reporting was funded in part by a grant from the Gordon Sinclair Foundation to support young journalists.

Khari McClelland performed the songs he found on his journey - and some of his own - at a concert at the CBC in Vancouver on January 19, 2016.  The concert was called Freedom Singer.

Watch the Freedom Singer concert1:05:19