Let Freedom Sing, Their Voices Changed History; Can Their Story be Set to Music?

Cincinnati, OH, March 11, 2009 --(PR.com)-- It all started as a postcard collection. Years ago, 83-year-old author Vivian B. Kline began collecting picture postcards of black Americans, but one day a particular photo caught her attention—she bought it and was instantly intrigued. After countless hours of research, the concept for Let Freedom Sing: Of 19th Century Americans, published through Outskirts Press, was born.

A black-and-white postcard of a group of young black students in antebellum costume was later identified by a Harlem librarian as a picture of the first Fisk Jubilee Singers, a group who had raised the money to build the main building at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. After the Civil War, blacks at the school that would later become Fisk University were being trained to educate fellow blacks, taught by white Christian ladies from the American Missionary Association. When the school treasurer, Mr. George White, overheard the pupils singing some old slave songs, he persuaded them to perform the songs in churches in order to raise money for the school.

Quite suddenly music came from the other room. He listened. The pained look left his face and was replaced by a smile. Music had always been his favorite, but what he heard now were not church hymns. Mournful, yet sweet, song after song came from the young voices of the students, as they sang during their lunch hour. He was already acting as their choirmaster as they learned Christian hymns, but this was something different.

Kline took what she had learned about this group of singers and wove a tale that brought their story to life. In Let Freedom Sing: Of 19th Century Americans, a class of Cincinnati college students hopes to make a musical about 19th century Americans. They choose the Fisk University Singers as their subjects and follow their progress from Tennessee to New York, even to an audience with Queen Victoria in London, England. Eventually the Fisk Singers raised nearly $150,000 to build the main building at Fisk University, which still stands. They also brought Negro spirituals to a global stage, holding their audiences captive with their astonishing voices and the rich tradition of their music.

Let Freedom Sing paints a compelling portrait of the 1860s and 70s, and sheds light on the unique triumphs, setbacks, and challenges the talented young singers faced as they banded together in a time of racial tension. Using the basis of historical fact, Kline puts her creative spin on the story to include memorable characters such as P.T. Barnum, Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass. In the end, the college students uncover a rich history—and enough material for several musicals. And the reader uncovers a bit of history that deserves a place in the spotlight today.

ISBN: 978-1-4327-3812-9 Format: 6.14 x 9.21 paperback SRP: $14.95
Genre: Fiction / Historical

About the Author: Vivian B. Kline is a widow who moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in midlife. She has been a professional artist-craftsman, organizer, and author of three books. When the second chapter of Let Freedom Sing won a prize in a competition at Sinclair College, Kline was encouraged to expand the piece into a full-length book. A self-starter, she has enjoyed the variety of her interests and hopes to continue pursuing them beyond her 83 years.

For more information or to contact the author, visit www.outskirtspress.com/LetFreedomSing.

About Outskirts Press, Inc.: Outskirts Press, Inc. offers full-service, custom self-publishing services for authors seeking a cost-effective, fast, and flexible way to publish and distribute their books worldwide while retaining all their rights and full creative control. Available for authors globally at www.outskirtspress.com and located on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado, Outskirts Press represents the future of book publishing, today.


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Kelly Schuknecht