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Banks of Freedom

from Voices from the Other Side by Sandy Cash

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Based on the true story of Josiah Henson, who began his life as a model slave, and became one of the most daring and successful conductors of the Underground Railroad.


Of all the slaves he owned, Josiah Henson was the prize
There was no man who could plant or hoe the faster
Josiah brought the crop yields up and he never raised his eyes
So was named the overseer by his master
In 1817 the master called Josiah in
Said here’s a letter signed by me to make you lucky
I owe my neighbors silver but they want their pay in skin
Hide our best slaves with my brother in Kentucky
If you get ‘em there this letter here from me says you’ll go free

Josiah stocked his master’s wagon up with oats and slaves and bacon
And crossed Virginiamountainous and wide
He’d switched the wagon for a trawler on Ohio’s west-bound water
When he heard voices from the other side
When he heard the voices from the other side

Chorus: The journey is long and the river is deep
It flows on the tears of grieving
But with hope in your heart and a promise to keep
You’ll rise on the banks of freedom

The slave state of Kentucky on the river’s southern edge
The free state of Ohio to the north
Josiah’s oar bent double on the hope that he could dredge
For the liberty his shackled crew was worth
Just then the sound of footfalls pounding on the northern shore
From the deck the crowd of slaves all turned to see
A dark skinned man shouting things they’d never heard before
About the abolitionist’s decree
Turn your vessel round and point it here to me – and you’ll be free


Get down Josiah hollered as he swung his oar up high
And held it there above his charges trembling
The first man makes a move will be the first man who will die
Cause I ain’t a one you’ll want to be offending
He drove his captives on until they docked at Blackford Creek
Nearby the great estate where he’d been leading
Then bounded up the stairs, his master’s brother for to seek
With a letter he was incapable of reading

But loyalty’s debt would ne’er be repaid
Black ink on white master’s paper
The note’s hidden terms had Josiah betrayed
It said he would not go free – never

In his new master’s fields Josiah kept his eyes cast down
But stood up tall to scan the dark horizon
And then one moonless night he caught a train they call the Underground
And rode it ‘till the border was behind him
And standing on free land, he promised himself
In the name of the slaves he’d delivered
He’d follow that train route again and again
And lead more free men to the river


from Voices from the Other Side, released January 1, 2012
Words and music © Sandy Cash, Bud-Man Music, BMI
Arranged, recorded, and produced by David Epstein


all rights reserved



Sandy Cash Israel

From the Midwest to the Middle East, American-born singer-songwriter Sandy Cash is a musical storyteller whose thoughtful – and theatrical – performance style is rooted in the songs on which she grew up back in her native Detroit.

Sandy draws on history and present-day politics, while exploring themes such as the sustaining love of family, a commitment to community, and a healthy sense of humor.
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