Some said that on January 20, 2009 Dr. King’s dream was realized with the inauguration of America’s first black president. Well, today in celebration of “Happy Black People Day,” (aka Martin Luther King’s b’day), The Urban Daily looks back at the “Top 5 MLK Songs!”
5. Ray Charles, “Abraham, Martin & John” –
First recorded by Dion, the soulful Ray Charles version is my favorite, but it’s not on YouTube so we’ll go with Marvin Gaye’s rendition. Penned in response to the assassinations of King and Robert Kennedy, artists from Marvin Gaye to Bob Dylan have lent their voices to the tune.
4. Common, “A Dream” –
The most modern and up-beat of these songs is Common’s track from the 2007 film Freedom Writers. The track samples King’s famous speech, expertly weaving words into an update of the preacher’s pro-freedom themes.
3. Public Enemy, “By The Time I Get To Arizona” –
As influential as P.E. were, it’s startling to see how dated some of their material seems now. The violent imagery in the video (Chuck and the S1Ws fantasize about taking out their frustrations on politicians who opposed the King holiday) is a bit discordant with MLK’s pacifist message — but this song reminds us that it wasn’t long ago when powerful people were openly resistant to honoring King’s legacy.
2. King Dream Chorus & Holiday Crew, “King Holiday” –
In a homage to “We Are The World,” Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys, Whitney Houston and more come together to share their appreciation for the sacrifices endured by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. A lost, but not forgotten gem.
1. Stevie Wonder, “Happy Birthday” –
This offering from the legendary Stevie Wonder gets the nod not just for its subject matter, but because it was a centerpiece in Stevie’s activist campaign to get King’s birthday recognized as a national holiday. It’s not just catchy, it helped catch a fire.