Greetings Good People.
I’ve been “off the road” now for 3 plus months and the view from here is almost as uncertain as when this crazy COVID-19 journey started. I mean, I’m well, healthy, and have most of the particulars sorted out… (how to shop, how to avoid the virus, how to clean the house, and how to get online concerts ONLINE!).
My last date in Buffalo, NY performing for students at Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf seems 5 lifetimes ago as we have all crossed that boundary into this brave new isolation-filled world full of virtual concerts, podcasts, Zoom sessions, and platforms each with their own benefits, quirks, and protocols, all designed to bring us closer together without getting TOO close for comfort or health. And then just as we were getting somewhat used to the distance and extended time online (with most of us hoping that it would soon be over!)… BOOM, the world exploded.
The sorrow, suffering, and unrest caused by COVID-19 was powerfully ramped up by the brutal murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd… three African
In the aftermath of that explosion I have found myself more in demand and more engaged with calls for concerts, interviews, and requests for comment, conversation and activity than I have been in some time. That brief hiatus in March to gather my senses and bearings is clearly over. And now the world is on fire for change.
Part of that change took place last Monday night in Richmond, VA where, in the midst of protests, arrests and uprisings, the statue of my great, great, great grandfather General Williams Carter Wickham – slave-owner (257 persons), Confederate general, statesman, and VP of the C&O Railroad – was unceremoniously toppled from its pedestal and left lying on the ground in Monroe Park. For Richmond, it was one more radical rejection of racist intransigence represented by public symbols that have stood for decades. For my white Wickham cousins and me it opened a new opportunity to probe our common ground and move into a deeper relationship. We used a Zoom session to express our thoughts and feelings with each other, and began to fashion a familial response. We’re all on it and we’re moving forward.
As always, I am finding deep inspiration and reserve in music. In week 3 of the COVID-19 crisis I wrote the song “On Solid Ground” as a call to a deeper sense of community and to point out a “Sankofa” moment… looking back to look forward. More song writing and creative expressions have helped me to center myself and others as rallies and gatherings continue to increase.
(You can watch and listen to me sing “On Solid Ground” here: https://vimeo.com/409236657
I know that many of you are also concerned that this shift for positive change becomes a real window for impacting our nation and are searching for ways to make this a part of your personal mission. In that spirit, I continue to offer concerts like my Every-Other-Friday Concert Series, as well as other online concert and performance opportunities as we gather to support each other in this window of change and growth.
As they sang at the mass meetings for the Modern Civil Rights Movement, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round!” We are fast becoming the change we want to see in the world. And it’s gonna take us all working together to face down the forces of hate and a system that is dead set against making that change matter.
We got this!
In change, action, and song,