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America's "untold history" revealed in song this Friday

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Jonathan Marshall, Terry Craghead, and Aaron Baker, known as the Starvation Army Band, to highlight history through music.
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OKLAHOMA CITY - The Center for Conscience in Action is hosting "Singing History: The American Story You Aren't Taught in School" on Friday, August 14th.

The event, featuring three-piece folk band The Starvation Army, begins at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Open Arms located at 3131 N. Penn, Oklahoma City.

This family-friendly event will help teach history through music as well as encourage local artists to include themes of peace and social justice in their work. 

Noting the work of the late historian Howard Zinn (A People’s History of the United States), Starvation Army drummer/singer Terry Craghead said they will present songs highlighting “American history from the side you don’t hear about very often.”

Jonathan Marshall, a locally-based educator who sings and plays banjo, guitar, fiddle and bass said  will present his new history curriculum at "Singing History,” which will be quite different from the lessons he offers in the classroom.

Marshall told Red Dirt Report that the “untold stories” out there will be featured, noting the progressive contribution of workers, people of color, women, LGBTQ, leftists and the entire 99 percent. Craghead, Marshall and guitarist/singer Aaron Baker will expose attendees to the America that cannot be learned in common-day textbooks.

“This land of ours has an incredibly colored past for such a young nation,” Marshall said. "Unfortunately, what we call history classes don't even begin to cover so many of the people, events and stories that could do so much to inform our present and our future. Sadder still, there is a movement in our culture to whitewash our history future in the name of ‘American Exceptionalism.’ Instead, let's take an evening and dedicate it to these people and their stories. Better still, let's do it through song."

Baker said that this music-centered history lesson, taking the audience from the early 19th century to present day will also have a history-laden Power Point presentation as well.

The setlist, Baker and Craghead noted, includes songs from a who’s who of folk music lefties ranging from Pete Seeger to Bob Dylan to Oklahoma’s very own Woody Guthrie. There will also be songs written by more contemporary singer-songwriters, including Dave Rovics, Maria Dunn and John Prine.

Baker said the songs range from those about the Saint Patrick’s Battalion that fought on the side of the Mexican Army, against the U.S. during the Mexican-American War (1846-48) to songs covering the 1960’s folk era and the civil-rights struggles of that time, including the 1964 murder of civil-rights activists Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, killed by fanatical racists in rural Mississippi.

“Come join us as we spend an evening hearing and contemplating songs about the less known and more complex parts of our nation's history," Marshall said.

The band name, “Starvation Army,” is a play on the religious do-gooders in the Salvation Army, which went up against the Wobblies (I.W.W.) and the Joe Hill song “The Preacher and the Slave” with the line, “Work and pray, live on hay / You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.” Hill and other organizers were critical of the Salvation Army at the turn of the 20th century. And the trio said they’ll tell the audience more about that.

The event is free of charge, but donations will be accepted to help support the Center for Conscience in Action. 

Andrew W. Griffin contributed to this story.

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Mary Belle Zook

Mary Belle Zook is a goat and cattle farmer turned aspiring journalist who found her love for...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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