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Freedom Songs

I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free was recorded in the 60s by Jazz pianist Billy Taylor. Candace Piette discovers what he song meant when it was first written.

Immortalised by Nina Simone, I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free, was recorded in the early 60s by Jazz pianist Billy Taylor for his young daughter. Candace Piette talks to Kim Taylor Thomson, to Nina Simone’s guitarist and to poets and writers and singers about what the song meant when it was first written and what resonance it has now in contemporary America.

(Photo: American jazz pianist Billy Taylor performs at the Peacock Alley night club, St. Louis, Missouri, 1974. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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