In 1859, a white man named Dan Emmett blackened his face and impersonated an African-American to the strains of his latest song “Dixie’s Land.” Just one year later, the song became a de facto national anthem for southern states attempting to break free from the United States during the American Civil War. After the war, the song became a tangible way to remember the
Old South of prosperity, civility—and chattel slavery. During the 20th Century, segregationists held tightly to the song as a way to preserve “the southern way of life” while African-Americans began protesting the song wherever it was heard. Was the song intrinsically racist, though? During the latter half of the 20th Century, new research has shed light on the possible African-American origins of the song, leading musicians—both black and white—to reinterpret and reevaluate the song.
Dixie is the result of five years of exhaustive research into the legend and lore surrounding America’s most dangerous song. Featuring archival documents, photos, music, and newsreels spanning 180 years of U.S. history, a more comprehensive story of the song will never be made. Dixie is loaded with interviews by the nation’s leading authorities on American music and featuring four complete musical performance—including Grammy winners The Carolina Chocolate Drops and Grammy nominee Rene Marie. Dixie is the perfect introduction to discussing race and history for your classroom or organization.