Song Presentation Group Assignment

In this project, you will research the historical context for a song responding to a specific social issue. In groups, you will research the song’s meaning, figure out what social issues it is addressing (there could be more than one) and then conduct additional research into the issue spoken about in the song. Each group will write a short report on their findings and make a 5-minute presentation to the rest of the class on Zoom. For presentations, you may use google slides (or any other presentation platform) and it is your choice of whether to include parts of the song or not as you present.

Step 1: Meet with your group during class time on 2/04 and select a song to research.

Choose from the following options:

The Story of OJ” by Jay-Z

“Formation” by Beyoncé

“Hurricane” by Bob Dylan (also listen to Ani DiFranco’s version)

“Hello Birmingham” by Ani DiFranco

“Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell 

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2

“The Revolution will not be Televised” by Gil-Scott Heron

“Changes” by Tupac Shakur

“Glad to be Gay” by Tom Robinson

“Sign “O” the Times” by Prince

“This is America” by Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino

“Glory” by John Legend and Common

“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar

Step 2:

Research the song you selected and discover the context for its writing: during what time and in what place was it written? Does it seem to be responding to a specific incident, or a more general issue? Some of the songs deal with multiple issues—what are all the social issues you are able to locate in the lyrics? How does the music (not the lyrics) contribute to the storytelling? What approach does the song take—does it have an angry tone? An uplifting one? Which line stands out the most to you? Why? Now discuss whether you find the song effective—why or why not? Did you learn anything from listening to the song? What about from the research you did? Finally, who do you feel is the intended audience for this song? How can you tell?

Write 500-800 words about your song’s history, formatted in the usual format:

12-pt font

Times New Roman

1” margins on all sides

Double spaced

Page numbers

A proper heading

Step 3:

Meet with your group on Thursday, 2/04 (and at other times as needed) and come up with a 5-minute presentation for the rest of the class. Presentations will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 16th. The document you create should be emailed to me before class on 02/16 as a Google doc.

How this will be graded and how work can be divided:

I will give each group a grade on their report + presentation. You can decide how to break up the work (for example, if you have two people take the lead on the report writing and two others take the lead on the presentation, that is fine). I will also poll each member of the group afterward for an honest response to how evenly distributed the work was—I don’t want one or two people doing all the work for the whole group, for example. If there is a strong disparity in effort, I will adjust individual grades accordingly.