By Julia Duggan
Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI), the College’s international music fraternity, held an event on Nov. 5 that focused on the soundtracks to protests throughout the ages. The event was designed to examine modern protest music and how they relate to the present day.
The presentation was led by Emily Obenauer, a junior music education major and SAI committee chair for Programming/Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. According to Obenauer, the goal of the presentation was not to enforce any political views on anyone, but to examine and learn more about modern day protest music.
“We were planning our first event regarding Black Lives Matter,” said Kait Canneto, the president of SAI and a junior music and political science double major. “We thought in the spirit of still tying in music as a music organization. Obenauer suggested having an event about protest music and how it relates (to) Black Lives Matter and the government and everything going on in the world this year.”
The presentation started off with a short video that showcased the history of protest music. Obenauer explained the reason why she wanted to show the history of protest music to show that it has a long history in the U.S. She emphasized that protest music raises awareness, attracts people to the movement, offers a straightforward political message and is a form of empowerment.
“Singing in a group creates a sense of belonging, being a part of something bigger than oneself, and contributing to a greater purpose,” Obenauer said.
The presentation focused on two issues that have sparked a lot of protest music: racial injustice and the U.S. government. The songs the group looked at for the Black Lives Matter movement were “Formation” by Beyoncé, “This is America” by Childish Gambino and “The Bigger Picture” by Lil Baby.
“Because it is difficult to watch, the more we should watch,” Obenauer said. The group watched segments of the music videos for each song. After the presentation was over, the group received the link to the presentation to be able to finish watching the music videos.
The songs for the government dissent category that the group examined were “American Idiot” by Green Day, “Commander in Chief” by Demi Lovato and “Looking for a Leader” by Neil Young.
“It was really cool comparing the different genres of music and how they respond to something happening that directly impacted them,” said Chris Cancglin, a senior music education major.
As the presentation was concluding, the group learned how to sing a song from the Justice Choir Songbook, which Obenauer described as “a program that is meant to encourage more community singing about social and environmental justice.”
The goal of the Justice Choir Songbook is to allow everyone to create music together.
“This love for music can communicate the messages of empowerment and promote equality and it was great to work as a unified group to promote these messages,” said Sarah Sardoni, a junior music and world languages and linguistics double major.
The music is not copyrighted so anyone has access to the music for free. Casey Ackerman, a senior music education major and the SAI music director, taught the group the song “Be the Change.” At the conclusion of the presentation, the group was invited to record themselves singing and submit it to create a group video.
“Overall, it was very interesting and super informative,” said Cancglin. “Plus, learning the song at the end was fun, too!”