Prison Work Song from The Piano Lesson, August Wilson

In the play, this is “‘Berta ‘Berta,” a prison work song the men learned while in Parchman Farm (Penitentiary) in Mississippi. You can hear its roots in the field songs of slaves and in gospel call-and-response, as well as the relation to its distant descendant, rock ‘n’ roll. Actors: Charles Dutton, Courtney Vance, Carl Gordon, Tommy Hollis. Dir. Lloyd Richards.

Afterwards, hear a short clip of a real prison work song.

Interesting fact: Dutton was a real convict (possession of a deadly weapon and assaulting a prison guard) before becoming an actor.

I LOVE listening to this song.

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