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Say Brother; Roots Music

Part of Say Brother.


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Say Brother
Roots Music
Program Number


Series Description

Say Brother is WGBH's longest running public affairs television program by, for and about African Americans, and is now known as Basic Black. Since its inception in 1968, Say Brother has featured the voices of both locally and nationally known African American artists, athletes, performers, politicians, professionals, and writers including: Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Thomas Atkins, Amiri Baraka, Doris Bunte, Julian Bond, Stokely Carmichael, Louis Farrakhan, Nikki Giovanni, Odetta Gordon, Henry Hampton, Benjamin Hooks, Jesse Jackson, Hubie Jones, Mel King, Eartha Kitt, Elma Lewis, Haki Madhubuti, Wallace D. Muhammad, Charles Ogletree, Babatunde Olatunji, Byron Rushing, Owusu Sadaukai, and Sonia Sanchez. Series release date: 7/15/1968

Program Description

Program focuses on three performers of "roots" (or blues) music, a community-based, Black art form originating in the United States. Host Topper Carew conducts a group interview with three blues musicians: Victoria Spivey (a New-York-City-based urban blues vocalist in the tradition of Bessie Smith), Larry Johnson (a New-York-City-based blues singer and acoustic guitarist), and John Jackson (a Virginia-based rural blues singer, who, like Leadbelly, accompanies himself on guitar). Program includes musical performances by each musician, including "Black Snake Blues" (Spivey), "Charlie Stone" (Johnson), "Key to the Highway" (Johnson), and "John Henry" (Jackson and Johnson). Interview segments revolve around the questions of how the musicians started playing, who their influences are, and African American musical traditions.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


African American women
African American singers
Blues (Music)
Spivey, Victoria
African American musicians
Jackson, John, 1924-2002
Johnson, Larry, 1938-
Blues musicians
Race and Ethnicity
White, Conrad (Director)
Barrow-Murray, Barbara (Associate Producer)
Topper Carew (Producer)
Cross, June (Assistant To The Producer)
Davis, Tony (Assistant To The Producer)
Johnson, Henry (Filmmaker)
Carew, Topper (Host)
Chicago: “Say Brother; Roots Music,” 02/28/1974, GBH Archives, accessed January 18, 2022,
MLA: “Say Brother; Roots Music.” 02/28/1974. GBH Archives. Web. January 18, 2022. <>.
APA: Say Brother; Roots Music. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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