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Sweet Cell Music

Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, 1 February 1998

ON 5 APRIL, 1968, when the National Guard was on full alert as America's black ghettos burnt in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Mayor of Boston had an inspired idea. He dispatched the city's only black council representative to the airport to meet a soul singer who was arriving for a performance later that night. Rather than cancel the show in the face of the very real possibility of widespread violence, the mayor helped set up a last-minute live broadcast. The entire show, punctuated by the singer's impassioned pleas for calm in the black community, was broadcast from a Boston stage across America, and was so effective in stemming the rising tide of anger and recrimination that the tape was rerun in its entirety as soon as the performance ended.

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