Search - Kim & Reggie Harris :: Steal Away - Songs of the Underground Railroad

Steal Away - Songs of the Underground Railroad
Kim & Reggie Harris
Steal Away - Songs of the Underground Railroad
Genres: Blues, Folk, Pop, R&B, Gospel
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1

Before the Civil War, when a slave?s every action was monitored by his "owners," songs became a powerful and vital form of private communication and expression on Southern plantations. Emotions and information that a slave...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Kim & Reggie Harris
Title: Steal Away - Songs of the Underground Railroad
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Appleseed Records
Original Release Date: 1/20/1998
Release Date: 1/20/1998
Genres: Blues, Folk, Pop, R&B, Gospel
Styles: Traditional Blues, Traditional Folk, Soul
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 611587102225


Album Description
Before the Civil War, when a slave?s every action was monitored by his "owners," songs became a powerful and vital form of private communication and expression on Southern plantations. Emotions and information that a slave could never plainly voice could be sung in coded spirituals and folk songs. When daring slaves sought a path to freedom in the North on the so-called Underground Railroad, actually a series of travel routes and safehouses, these songs became tools to transmit information and advice about escape plans, to assert defiance, inspire runaways, and express fear and elation at the harrowing journey ahead. On "Steal Away: Songs of the Underground Railroad," veteran folk duo Kim and Reggie Harris capture the power, spirit and messages of these encrypted songs in a rich and moving collection of largely traditional material. This album, the core of an ongoing series of workshops and presentations for students, teachers and families by the Harrises, has become an important educational tool and is stocked in many libraries and museums around the country. The CD?s booklet includes informative, detailed liner notes and the lyrics to its 16 selections, shedding light on their hidden or inherent meanings: "Wade in the Water" reminded runaways to follow rivers and streams for direction, cover, and food; "Follow the Drinking Gourd" taught slaves to use the Big Dipper to find the North Star as a celestial signpost to freedom; "Let Us Break Bread Together" signaled secret planning meetings. Other traditional songs here such as "Oh Freedom," "Now Let Me Fly," "Free at Last," and "No More Auction Block for Me" require no decoding. These standards are joined by three contemporary songs ? "Harriet Tubman," a tribute to the escaped slave who became one of the most famous Underground Railroad "conductors"; "Ain?t I a Woman," a musical arrangement of a famous speech by Sojourner Truth, a 19th century crusader dedicated to slavery?s abolition and women?s rights; and the Harrises? own "Heaven is Less than Fair," based on narrative accounts of escaped slaves about their flight to freedom and the loved ones they left behind. The Harrises present these songs with simple grace, using yearning harmonies and acoustic guitar accompaniment to convey the melancholy of slavery, the glimmerings of hope for a better life, and the joy of achieving a hard-won freedom.

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CD Reviews

Songs of power, protest and defiant hope
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Kim & Reggie have done it again with their latest release. This extraordinary collection features a diverse collection of the "code" songs of the Underground Railroad, the brave group of African-Americans who escaped the oppression of slavery in the U.S. South and then joined Harriet Tubman, the group's "foundress," in her quest to bring others to freedom. The songs in this collection truly touch every human emotion as they convey a history that is too often forgotten in our society which is more racially divided than ever. I am struck by the confident hope expressed by songs such as "Harriet Tubman/Steal Away," "Great Day," and "Wade in the Water." The story & accompanying song "Heaven Is Less Than Fair" brings home the brutality of slavery that separated families and loved ones from each other. All the songs carry a messaage for today, especially songs like "Ain't I A Woman?" as we discover that these words of Sojourner Truth could still in some ways be spoken today. This CD is a great listen, a great gift, and a great teaching tool. Highly recommended to all."
Just Brilliant!
BeatleBangs1964 | United States | 03/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have had the pleasure to know Kim & Reggie Harris in the 1990s. They are gifted musicians and story tellers and they are gifted at making you feel like a passenger on the underground railroad, the Train that remains Bound for Glory!

I just love the collection of songs; you learn about the code terms for freedom as you come along for the ride. Just hop on board! This Train is Bound for Glory and it's making stops for freedom all along the way. Next stop - No More Auction Block for Me - an excellent statement against an atrocious period in history when people were sold at auction blocks on the open market. Now it's time to Follow the Drinking Gourd on the next stop. Kim has a beautiful voice and when you hear her sing "Free at Last," don't be surprised if you are very moved.

Abolitionists - those opposed to slavery; Quakers opposed slavery and helped many people escape to the Promised Land outside the slave states.

Conductor - people who helped lead the Underground Railroad and keep that train moving!

Drinking Gourd - North Star, used by many to travel northward out of the slave states.

Heaven - Code word for Canada, the desired northern stop. Canada recognized all free citizens, regardless of race. The Train that was Bound for Glory made many successful runs to Canada.

Safe Houses, stops - homes that were used to shelter runaway slaves. These safe houses were stops the train made en route to freedom.

Slave Catchers - self explanatory.

These gifted story tellers are not only wonderful musicians, but they are also historians who bring to life a vital part of history that should never be forgotten."