Songs For These Times: Our Song Challenge

A few weeks ago, we asked songwriters to write and send us a song to reflect this remarkable day in the country's history. We received submissions from first-time and veteran songwriters alike, and I've chosen a small handful that I thought captured the spirit of America after our historic election. For those whose songs were not chosen, thank you for participating. I hope and trust that you got something memorable out of the experience.

Here are the ones I did choose. I'll put them on the All Songs Considered podcast this week.

Kat Edmonson, "Be the Change"

Here's a video of her memorable and contagious tune:

The Occidental Brothers International Dance Band, "Obama Ubarikiwe"
This is a Chicago-based band in love with Ghanaian highlife music. "Obama Ubarikiwe" is a celebration of Barack Obama from this past fall, but I felt it captured the spirit and merited inclusion.

Peter Ford, "What Our Future Holds"
Ford: " 'What Our Future Holds' was a breakthrough for me. I have never written anything quite like it or held myself to a deadline like that. The lyric 'Our dreams are our children...' came from a dream of an inscrutable conversation with a wise friend in a dark cave. At the end of the conversation, I realized the walls were lined with geodes. I broke one free and cradled it in my hand. My friend was counseling about nurturing my future children or something not quite clear, but upon waking, I had the insight that these were not literal human offspring, but all of the seeds of potential and gifts I had within me, and I had to nurture them."

Christian Kiefer, "Obama"
Before Obama was elected, I received a lavishly packed CD of original songs about our first 43 presidents. Called Of Great and Mortal Men, the three-CD set ended with George W. Bush. Now, just in time for the inauguration, Christian Kiefer and his musical friends have added this song for our 44th president.

Jon Black, "If We Hang On (Uncle Sam's Song of Hope)"
Black: "I was feeding my musical appetite with Pete Seeger when I wrote this song. It's amazing to hear recordings of Seeger's concerts, and how it quickly turns from a guy with a guitar to an auditorium singing songs of hope and freedom. We are drawn to hope, and people want to sing harmony in a song of hope."

Rachel Griffin, "Struggle Leads to Grace"
"The verses are inspired by the peaceful feeling I've had about things since Obama was elected, even though times are so hard. Yes, I can't pay my bills, but I have a president who inspires me. He inspires me to tirelessly to use the gifts and talents I
possess for the greater good. He also reminds me that it is not material success or possessions that are what make an individual or country great. Taking care of others and respecting and valuing each other as human beings is where greatness lies."



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