MLK on jazz and life

14 December 2010

“God had wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create, and from this capacity have flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and of joy that have allowed man [sic] to cope with his environment in many situations.

Jazz sings of life. The blues tell the stories of life’s difficulties, and if you will think for a moment, you will realize that they take the harshest realities of life and put them into music only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music. Modern Jazz has continued in this tradition singing the songs of more complicated urban existence.

When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of earth which flow through his instrument…”

Martin Luther King in the forward to the program for the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival

(h/t – and the entire text at – Downbeat Magazine, January 2011)

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