Available on Apple Music now, the special playlist marks an important holiday that is now gaining wider appreciation, with over 20 artists in a dozen genres pitching in to Juneteenth 2021: Freedom Songs.
For backgound, Juneteenth is observed each June 19, and marks the day in 1865 when the enslaved people of Texas became aware of the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s a significant moment because they were the last to know they had been freed, effectively marking the end of slavery in America. Now, this new playlists serves to highlight that history, while speaking into today’s African American experience as well.
“Juneteenth 2021: Freedom Songs is an idea born with the desire to make sure new sounds were available for this important day,” said Ebro Darden, Apple Music Global Head of Hip-Hop and R&B. “Many corporations and state governments are acknowledging Juneteenth now, so our idea was to help lift this day higher and create more awareness. Black artists from many genres and from around the world contributed this moment this year, the same way Black creatives and storytellers over centuries shared their talent, soul, joy and pain to create all the music the world enjoys today.’”
Along with the country stars, other artists contribute from the worlds of pop, hip hop, R&B and much more, including names like Black Thought, H.E.R., Honey Dijon and Chloe x Halle. Kane Brown offered up his “Worldwide Beautiful” — the 2020 diversity anthem which was released after social justice protests began last summer.
“I wish the world would listen more instead of everybody yelling at each other,” he told Apple Music. “That’s how we’ll work this thing out, when everybody can just realize we’re all people deserving of each other’s love and respect.”
For his part, Allen decided to tribute an icon of country music. The rising star covered “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” by the late Charley Pride, a Country Music Hall of Fame member and most successful black country artist of the ’60s and ’70s. It was the song they sang together on the 2020 CMA Awards, just weeks before Pride’s passing.
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“The simplicity in the lyrics, and the uniqueness in the vocal to where it’s a song that people can relate to,” Allen said. “Yet Charley did it in his own way. I take that same concept and I apply it to my artistry. I give people lyrics and a story they can relate to—in a way only Jimmie Allen can.”