Apple Music Honors Juneteenth 2021 with Exclusive Song Collection

In the US, Juneteenth is the day recognizing the news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reaching slaves in Texas. To honor Juneteenth 2021, Apple Music commissioned a specially curated collection of songs – Juneteenth 2021: Freedom Songs.  The compilation features original compositions and covers in service of the holiday from Amaarae, Black Thought, Chloe x Halle, D Smoke, H.E.R., Hit-Boy, Honey Dijon, Jean Dawson, Jimmie Allen, Kane Brown, Kirk Franklin, Madison Calley, Maverick City Music, Saba, Sech, Tobe Nwigwe, Tems, Terrace Martin & Brandee Younger, Willie Jones and Zeal & Ardor. In addition, Ghanaian American visual artist Kwadwo Obeng pairs with some of the artists works to create timeless visualizations of their individual Juneteenth messages. The Juneteenth Freedom Songs playlist is available today only on Apple Music. Listen HERE.

“2021 marks an important moment in Black History with Juneteenth finally being recognized as a holiday by cities and states across America. Until now, many people were not taught about the importance of June 19th in public schools and corporations and state governments weren’t giving time off. This is a very big moment in history that the mainstream is embracing and acknowledging the day enslaved Black Africans were set free from physical bondage by the US government —a painful part of American history that can no longer be a side-note,” said Ebro Darden, Apple Music global head of Hip-Hop and R&B. “Our teams at Apple Music are pushing the Black Music Month conversation internationally, working to make sure the world understands that all popular music today was started by Black people. The significance of these recognitions is helping normalize the truth and the trauma done to Black people worldwide by white supremacy and racism.

Darden adds, “Juneteenth 2021: Freedom Songs is an idea born with the desire to make sure new sounds were available for this important day. Many corporations and state governments are acknowledging Juneteenth now, so our idea was to help lift this day higher and create more awareness. Black artists from many genres and from around the world contributed this moment this year, the same way Black creatives and storytellers over centuries shared their talent, soul, joy and pain to create all the music the world enjoys today.’”

Artists taking part in Juneteenth 2021 Freedom Songs were commissioned by Apple Music to speak to the spirit of this day through the majesty of music. The project spans over 20 artists and a dozen genre perspectives from Hip-hop, Gospel, Metal, Jazz, R & B, Country and more. Within this collection, the listener uncovers the complexity of the Black experience against the backdrop of the historical touchpoint that is Juneteenth. From joy to pain and from hope to rage, Freedom Songs is a sonic journey through covers from the past and new works of today.

Like many who had learned the story behind Juneteenth as children, Maverick City’s Jonathan McReynolds was confused. “I had a very basic understanding and assumed at that point that someone could get on their cell phone and just call and tell everybody,” he tells Apple Music. “I remember my first reaction was ‘Why did it take so long?’” While that sort of indignation at the news of the Emancipation Proclamation not reaching some slaves until well over two years after its instatement is hardly uncommon, the faith-driven praise and worship collective is likely well familiar with the biblical directive of “lean not unto thine own understanding.” For their contribution to Apple Music’s Juneteenth-inspired Freedom Songs, a collection of covers and originals, the group delivered “Breathe,” a song McReynolds says he hopes reminds fans to be grateful in each moment. Chandler [Moore] was praying in the session and talking about how the events that have taken place in America have a lot of us—especially Black men—waiting for the next shoe to drop,” McReynolds says. “As we began writing our way through it, we just realized this connection to all of the breaths that have been snuffed out over the past years because of racism and discrimination. So the first idea was centered around us bracing ourselves for the next issue, the next trending topic, the next killing, the next trial, and how necessary it is for us as believers—and just people in general—to make sure that we don’t miss out on living, praising, and believing because of worry.”

Additionally, Apple Music will celebrate Black artistry and influence all month long in honor of ‘Black Music Month 2021,’ an exploration of the legacy, artistry, impact, and influence of Black musicians around the globe through Playlists, DJ Mixes, Original Content, Apple Music TV, Radio Programming & More. Check out Apple Music’s celebration of ‘Black Music Month 2021’ HERE.

A full list of participating artist quotes and info on their songs can be found below. 

Apple Music Original Playlist: Juneteenth 2021 Freedom Songs

Black Thought (Original Song “Approximately Free”)

D Smoke (Original Song called “Kinfolk”)

H.E.R. (Cover of “Inner City Blues” by Marvin Gaye)

Hit-Boy (Original Song “Back In Traffic”)

Jimmie Allen (Cover of Charley Pride’s “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin”)

Kirk Franklin (Cover of “We Shall Overcome” called “Overcome 2021”)

Madison Calley (Cover of “Lift Every Voice And Sing”)

Maverick City Music (Original Song “Breathe”)

Tobe Nwigwe (Original Song “Passing Through”)

Willie Jones (Cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”)

Amaarae (Cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly”)

Tems (Cover of John Legend’s “Ordinary People”)

Zeal & Ardor (Original Song “Calloway”)

Sech (Original Song “Somos Iguales”)

Kane Brown (A reimagining of his own song “Worldwide Beautiful”)

Saba (Original Song “Black Astronaut”)

Honey Dijon (Original Song “Unleash”)

Chloe x Halle (Cover of TLC’s “Waterfalls”)

Jean Dawson (Original song “Ghost”)

Terrace Martin & Brandee Younger (Cover Song “Damage”)