Secret Sound - 16 - The Emancipation Car (Joshua McCarter Simpson) 

Welcome to Episode 16, which focuses on 19th century abolitionist, song-poet, pastor, and herb doctor, Joshua McCarter Simpson (1821-1877). Simpson was born free but an indentured servant until the age of 21, after which he taught himself to read and write. He graduated form Oberlin College and, after being “called” to sing, he became the first African-American to publish original anti-slavery songs, often applying parody, symbolism, and dream visions. He would later claim his lyrics as being prophetic of the civil war. He toured the country with Frederick Douglas, while he and his song-poems played a central role in the Underground Railroad. Beyond his abolitionist song-poetry, and later in life, Simpson became a Baptist pastor and ran a storefront through which he practiced herbal medicine. This episode explores the role of secret sound and music in 19th century American slave culture, and takes a deep listen into Simpson’s radical though largely forgotten life--and with a burning ear towards the injustices today. Welcome to the emancipation car.