Folk the Vote

Music can be a catalyst for energizing the public behind a politician or initiative. But with that strategy often comes infringement on intellectual property rights and messaging that isn’t in alignment with the meaning of the songs or the intent of the songwriters. This can lead to artists responding with legal action, using their platform to object, and creating their own rebuttal messages.

Folk the Vote explores this sometimes messy intersection of music and politics. Starting with the history of People's Songs actively participating and writing songs for the Henry Wallace 1948 presidential campaign, to Josh White and the FDR White House, through McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee, we see how politics of the past affected artists' ability to speak truth to power. The story continues through the voices of contemporary artists who use their platform to speak up about issues and politics, and their responses when politicians or campaigns use their work without permission. 

Use the links on the right side of this page to navigate the sections of this digital exhibit. To view a selection of these items in person at the Woody Guthrie Center, please purchase your tickets online and schedule your visit. Purchase tickets here


Curated and Presented by the Woody Guthrie Center