The Liberty Lines: How the Underground Railroad Spurred the Civil War

Saturday, September 21, 2019 | 7:30PM | Maple Street Chapel, Lombard, IL

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Advance sales have ended. Tickets are $25 and available at the door starting at 7:00pm 

The Liberty Lines is a program of authentic spirituals and folk songs interspersed with readings from 19th century slave narratives and other primary sources. The program was compiled by Andrew Calhoun and will be performed by an ensemble cast. 

The history of the Underground Railroad is traced as a grassroots movement of conscience which spurred the Civil War.  Readings include the true story of “Eliza” crossing the ice from Bound for Canaan by Fergus Bordewich; The Fugitive Blacksmith by James W. C. Pennington; Frederick Douglass’ Autobiography; the story of Harriet Tubman; Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address; essential information on African-American military participation in the Civil War from Black Reconstruction, by William E. B. Du Bois; and Thomas W. Higginson’s Army Life in a Black Regiment

Cast: Andrew Calhoun, guitar, vocals; Tonya Peebles, Gloria Robinson, Christopher Skyles and Runako Soyini, vocals. Casey Calhoun appears as Emily Dickinson. (See cast bios below.)

Songs include "Get On Board, Little Children," "Run to Jesus," "Wake Up Jacob," "Go Down Moses," "Sun Don't Set in the Morning," "Run Mary Run," and "Tree of Life." (See extended list below.)

This is a moving, informative, ultimately uplifting show about the triumph of the human spirit. 

The Liberty Lines will be performed at the historic 1870s  Maple Street Chapel, 200 S. Main Street, Lombard, Illinois. Show time is 7:30PM (doors open at 7:00PM). Tickets are $25.00 at the door on date of show (cash or check). 

QUESTIONS? Please contact Melissa Dagenhart at


Andrew Calhoun is a Chicago singer-songwriter, author and music historian. He has recorded 14 albums of original and traditional songs, including Bound to Go, which features several songs included in this program. He received a Lantern Bearer Award from the Folk Alliance Region Midwest in 2012 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Woodstock Folk Festival in 2014. He is at work on a Robert Burns songbook. 

Gloria Robinson, a Chicago native, has been performing music as long as she can remember.  Whether it was a Black History Month program for the Veterans Administration (VA) or performing for weddings and home-goings, she finds joy in performing and orchestrating musical events.  She worked for the VA for almost 30 years. Her favorite pastimes include writing poetry, singing, playing guitar, and spending time with her beautiful grandchildren.  She is delighted to have this opportunity to perform with her daughters Tonya and Runako. 

Chris Walz is a musician, educator, and actor residing in Chicago. A nationally acclaimed bluegrass multi-instrumentalist, Walz combines a joy of performing with a reverence for America’s musical story, delivering a fulfilling performance. His many years touring with bluegrass, Grammy nominated Special Consensus, honed his group and solo prowess. A natural born storyteller, Chris has a masterful presence as he weaves his songs and remembrances into a night of music that is not easily forgotten. Chris is a gifted and much sought after teacher at the historic Old Town School of Folk Music and spreads his knowledge and love of music in each community he plays in with well-polished workshops. A rare combination of past and present, Chris is playing music for the future.

Tonya Peebles, a Chicago native, has been performing since a toddler on her parents reel to reel.  She was active in Theater Groups including Show Choir, performing solos and competing across the country and internationally.  She has also performed with local Chicago and D.C. groups under R&B and Pop genres.  Tonya graduated from Howard University with a B.S., and Keller Graduate School with an M.B.A.  She is a Financial Coach. Her favorite pastimes include yoga, piano, singing, and spending time with her 2 beautiful sons, Brandon and Caleb.   

Runako Soyini is a teacher and counselor with the Chicago Board of Education. She received her Masters of Science in Counseling from National Louis University and her Bachelors of Science in Language Arts Education from Alabama State University. She has performed in various productions such as: Crown, Jesus Christ Superstar, Tartuffe and A Piece of My Soul. Runako is one of the star voices on the Andrew Calhoun and Campground: Bound to Go CD, performing spirituals such as “Run Mary Run”. 

Christopher Skyles’ vocal talent was discovered by his freshman college roommate, a music major,  who heard him sing and ‘dared’ him to try out for the college choir. Christopher became lead soloist for his college choir all 4 years, and has been singing ever since. He has sung with the Grant Park Symphony, South Shore Opera Company, American Chamber Opera, the University of Chicago Chorus and the Baroque Choral Ensemble City Musick. He has been a featured soloist and section leader for both 1st United Methodist Church (Chicago Temple) and University Church in Hyde Park. Christopher is the co-founder of the Third Eye Theatre Ensemble, a small opera company in Chicago and is currently on the Board of Directors for The Floating Opera.   

Casey Calhoun studied dance at Dance Center Evanston, Gus Giordano Dance Studio, and Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle. Noted for her clear, distinctive lead and harmony vocals, she performs in a folk duo with her father, Andrew. Their recent duo CD, Skeins, has received extensive national airplay. 

Songs and narratives included in The Liberty Lines

"Steal Away to Jesus” – from The Story of the Jubilee Singers With Their Songs, J.B.T. Marsh, 1876  

“Get On Board Little Children” – from Hampton Collection / Religious Folk Songs of the Negro, 1874/1909 

Narrative of Isaac Griffin, Chatham, Canada, 1855, from Benjamin Drew, The Refugee 

“Wake Up Jacob” – from Delaware, Slave Songs of the United States, 1867 

Underground RR background and tale of “Eliza” from the account of the Rankin family adapted from Bound for Canaan, by Fergus M. Bordewich, 2005 

“Go to Sleep, My Baby” – from Negro Folk Rhymes, Thomas W. Talley, 1922 

“Run Mary Run” – from Religious Folk Songs of the Negro, 1874/1909 

“Wide River” – from Folk Songs of the American Negro, John Wesley Work, 1915 

“Sun Don’t Set in the Morning” – from Religious Folk Songs of the Negro 

Narrative from The Fugitive Blacksmith by James W. C. Pennington, 1849 

“Ol’ Egyp’”, from Spirituals of the South Carolina Low Country, 1930 

Reading from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, 1845 

“Run to Jesus,” from The Story of the Jubilee Singers, contributed by Frederick Douglass 

Harriet Tubman quotes and background from Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land by Kate Clifford Larson, 2003; Harriet Tubman, The Road to Freedom, by Catherine Clinton, 2004; Bound for Canaan by Fergus M. Bordewich 

“O Freedom!” from Religious Folk Songs of the Negro 

“Walking Shoes” from Spirituals of the South Carolina Low Country, 1930 

“Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” from Slave Songs of the United States  

Reading from Frederick Douglass Monthly, November 1859 

“John Brown’s Body” – camp meeting song from circa 1860, melody then used by Julia Ward Howe for lyric to “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” written in 1861. 

Civil War background from Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson, 1988 

Thomas Higginson, info from Wikipedia, Bound for Canaan, and Army Life in a Black Regiment by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1869 

“Hammering Judgment” –from Calhoun Plantation Songs by Emily Hallowell 

Poem – Emily Dickinson, from Complete Poems 

“Michael Haul the Boat Ashore “– version from Hilton Head, S.C., Slave Songs of the United States, 1867 

“Goodbye, City of Babylon” – Louisiana spiritual from More Mellows by R. Emmet Kennedy, 1931 

“Go Down Moses,” first published as “Song of the Contrabands” in 1862  

Reading from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865 

Reading from William E.B., Dubois, Black Reconstruction, 1935  

“Tree of Life” (You Got a Right) –from Calhoun Plantation Songs, Emily Hallowell, 1907 

Recommended reading: Bound for Canaan, by Fergus Bordewich; Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land, by Kate Clifford Larson; Black Reconstruction by W.E.B. DuBois; Slave Songs of the United States, by Allen, Ware and Garrison; Negro Folk Rhymes, Thomas W. Talley; Dark Midnight When I Rise, Andrew Ward.