From gospel to hip-hop to jazz and beyond, Black artists have used music to create freedom.
As Juneteenth is celebrated across the country, ABC News’ “Soul of a Nation” presents a new primetime special “Sound of Freedom – A Juneteenth Celebration” hosted by country music star Jimmie Allen and featuring a mix of live performances and conversations with iconic Black musicians.
Watch the full show Friday, June 17 at 8 pm ET on ABC
Juneteenth is a United States federal holiday that commemorates the anniversary of the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3, which proclaimed freedom of enslaved African Americans in Texas, the last state of the Confederacy to withhold institutional slavery.
Black artists including Ciara, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and more speak on the importance of ownership in music and what representation looks like on-stage and off-stage. Musical performances in the special include Grammy-winning legends Patti LaBelle, Marvin Sapp and Jon Batiste.
Ciara was only a teenager when she signed her first major record deal. She said it took her years to understand what it feels like to be “creatively handcuffed.”
“Being signed to a major recording label, you know, when you’re young, and you just get the opportunity, you’re like, ‘This is amazing. My dream is coming true.’ But the reality is that when you get to do it over, and over, and over, you start to go, ‘Okay, am I really reaping the benefits of the fruits of my labor?’ “Said Ciara.
“They hold the power to tell you when your next song can come out or your next album can come out and then if they’re not happy with it, they decide they wanna stop in the process.”
She said there was a creative disagreement that happened during the process of making the music video for her song “Level Up.” The situation pushed her to ask her label for her “masters,” which is the original recordings of her songs, so that she can start her own music label.
“I was like, ‘This is my chance. I’m gonna ask for my masters. I’m gonna go run my own label,’ And amazingly enough, they gave me my masters,” said Ciara. “The greatest thing for me is now seeing it on the other side, owning my masters, [and] really understanding how much you’re missing out by not owning your record, by not being able to participate in a bigger way in the piece of the pie. “
The primetime special is set to air Friday, June 17, at 8 pm ET on ABC and available the next day on Hulu.