Article updated January, 2023
In recognition and celebration of Black History Month, VisionTV is proud to share an encore presentation of the Canadian Screen Award award-winning music documentary series,“Songs of Freedom with Measha Brueggergosman.”
In this film, Brueggergosman brings viewers on her quest to learn more about her family’s storied lineage, which stretches from Cameroon, Africa to Canada’s Maritimes. What’s more, the acclaimed soprano performs her favourite freedom songs, pieces of music that “emerged from Africa via the slave trade to America, then to Canada via the United Empire Loyalist migration and the Underground Railroad.”
VisionTV will be airing “Songs of Freedom” in a four-episode version that’ll run Fridays from February 3 – 24, 2023 at 10pm ET/7pm PT.
In 2017, Brueggergosman also released the “Songs of Freedom” album, “a collection of songs about emancipation, family, faith and discovery,” and she shared how she traced her roots and the bravery that it took for her family to make it over to Canada.
Always exploring with her multi-faceted voice and artistry, Measha Brueggergosman’s 2020 album “Measha Jazz” takes a beloved genre and scatters its conventions through the prism of her singularly omnivorous musical point of view.
-Adam Grant/Siddharth Gandhi
More from Measha Brueggergosman on her Songs of Freedom journey: During my personal quest to discover the origins of my Gosman family roots on my father’s side of the family I’ve had to perform a little research. With the help of historian David States and the Nova Scotia Archives, I’ve gone back far enough to figure out how and when we came to Canada. I found the Gosman name in an entry of the Book of Negroes, a recorded list of all of the enslaved blacks (known as Black Loyalists) who gained their freedom in Canada by fighting with the British military during the American War of Independence in the late 1700s. In 1779 John Gosman became a Black Loyalist when he ran away from his Colonial enslaver, Daniel Lathem of New London, New England, to join the British troops. The Book of Negroes is the first recorded evidence of John Gosman, my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.
In the Book of Negroes I found the names of some of my ancestors: John Gosman, 23, his wife, Rose Gosman, 21, and their daughter, Fanny, five months. Fanny Gosman was the first free-born Gosman. It’s amazing to see part of my last name on a document that marked the beginning of the Gosman line in Canada as free people.
Throughout the War of Independence, slavery continued in full force and fleeing was harder than ever. Entire families risked their lives to seek freedom under extremely dangerous conditions. Many doubted the British would even keep their promise of emancipation. A number of escaped slaves were re-captured by the Americans only to be re-enslaved, hanged or lynched. Our ancestors were very courageous to have done what they did. If John Gosman hadn’t risked his life to get his name in that book and make it on the ship that took him and his family to Nova Scotia, I would not be here right now.
To view “Songs of Freedom Preview: Book of Negroes,” with Measha and her brother Neville please click below.