Searching for the soundtrack of the Underground Railroad

Khari McClelland went on a journey to learn more about the music that guided slaves - and his great, great, great grandmother — northward to freedom.

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 Freedom Singer. Her reporting was funded in part by a grant from the Gordon Sinclair Foundation to support young journalists.

Watch Freedom Singer on CBC Gem:

Freedom Singer is part of the CBC documentary series Absolutely Canadian available on CBC Gem.

Khari McClelland performed the songs he found on his journey — and some of his own — at a concert at the CBC in Vancouver on Jan. 19, 2016.

Watch the Freedom Singer concert

6 years ago
Duration 1:05:19
Khari McClelland of The Sojourners performs songs from the Underground Railroad


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