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Song Stories

“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”

Nina Simone | 1967

Co-written by Billy Taylor and originally recorded by the jazz piano legend, this civil rights anthem was redone many times over, but none as famously as by Simone, who released it on her Silk & Soul album. Freedom was a value dear to the singer; she explored the theme time and again in her own compositions and reflected it in those she recorded. "I'll tell you what freedom is to me," she said. "No fear. It is something really, really to feel -- like a new way of seeing something."

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Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

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