The Music of Freedom

Underground Railroad
Artwork from the Underground Railroad Official National Park Handbook | Wikimedia Commons

During the time of slavery in the United States, enslaved Black people escaped to go north and seek their freedom.

The Underground Railroad is the symbolic name given to the routes they traveled from safe house to safe house until they reached freedom. Music played a big role as songs gave coded instructions for the routes to follow and warned of dangers along the way. The songs also encouraged enslaved people to join the Underground Railroad; provided inspiration and support for the long journey north; and celebrated the end of a successful trip to freedom.

Listen to some of the songs that helped enslaved people escape to the north, as well as others that celebrate freedom.


Links to more information:

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Guide to Follow the Drinking Gourd

Pathways for Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad


Steal Away
Kim and Reggie Harris
Appleseed Recordings 1022

Get On Board
William Grant Still
Cambria Records 1083

Ballad for Americans
Paul Robeson
Vanguard 117