The SNCC Freedom Singers were a musical group primarily active between 1962 and 1966, singing “freedom songs” in order to fundraise and organize on behalf of SNCC.
The group had several key performances. In June 1963, they performed at a SNCC fundraiser with gospel artist Mahalia Jackson. The following month they sang at the Newport Folk Festival, performing their own songs while also serving as a backup choir for other artists such as Bob Dylan. In August 1963, they were the only group of movement-affiliated song leaders to perform at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Their increasing exposure led Mercury Records to sign them to a recording contract; they recorded a studio album in October 1963. Other commitments caused the initial group to disband at the end of 1963. However, a second, normally all-male group was quickly organized, which was active from 1964 to 1966.
Since the 1980s, performers from both groups have occasionally reunited under the Freedom Singers moniker. In 2010, Bernice Johnson, Charles Neblett, and Rutha Harris entertained President Barack Obama at the White House during a concert series that also featured Bob Dylan and Smokey Robinson.