Dear Music Family,
I’m sitting in my living room, socially distancing in isolation tonight as I’m watching the Democratic National Convention on TV. Despite all of the conflicting, depressing and heart wrenching news stories that stream from media sources every day, I still find myself filled with a new level of energy and joy as the diversity of colorful, hope-filled faces appear on my TV screen. Here in primetime, there is evidence of the rising sense of awareness that continues to make its presence known in cities and towns across America. We are seeing the promise of a new America… one that cares about ALL people and that is willing to stand in the streets to take down the signs and symbols of hate and oppression. This is the spirit of change that has filled my heart and mind with song.
As a result, my musician sense has come alive in a vibrant way. Since landing at home in March, I’ve been inspired to write seven new songs… some of which you’ve heard if you have joined me in my online performances. They have come from a very deep place of personal reflection and were born out of the many conversations that i’ve been blessed to have with friends, colleagues and the audience members who made contact in this time of crisis over the last 5 months. I’ve also used this new landscape to make connections with people from around the world.
One of the new things that rose out of this time has been the timely reaction of my Living Legacy Project board which voted, courageously to cancel two filled buses headed to Alabama and Mississippi before the real danger of the pandemic was known. reacting to my idea that we shift our “in person energy” to an online presence, we creatively hatched a Zoom series that has proven to be powerful and informative, albeit in a different way, as our pilgrimages. As a result, many of you have also joined me for the monthly series Voting Rights: The Struggle Continues, that we put forward. If you were with us last month, you saw four amazing young activists who shared their thoughts and their voting rights activity with poise and confidence demonstrating once again that much of this new spirit of inspiration is fueled by our youth. (Click http://www.uulivinglegacy.org to go to the Living Legacy website, and choose the Watch the Video link on the middle left that sends you to the Living Legacy Project YouTube Channel. For the young activists, choose Program 3. There is music and a general introduction first, and I start introducing these inspirational activists about minute 23:00. Or you can click https://www.youtube.com/watch?
The stories and thoughts that you have shared in response on my website, Facebook and Twitter have me really looking forward to our next panel gathering on Tuesday, August 25th (next week!). This one features three powerful women (two descendants of historic figures in voting rights history and the Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. I encourage you to join us for this historic night in the spirit of C. T. Vivian and US Rep. John Lewis and in the renewed hope that is framed by Joe Biden’s courageous nomination of Kamala Harris for Vice President. These and other events have inspired me to write new songs: “On Solid Ground,” “Let’s Meet Up Early,” and my latest new offering “We Will Never Go Back.”
Since you’ve read this far, you get to be among the first to know: I’ll be hitting the studio in September to record a new CD with songs that speak to our new commitments to rise as one. The songs will follow my 2018 release “Ready to Go” in making a statement about the mission of creating a community of positive presence…one that supports the need for justice and principle in a nation/world that has allowed hate and greed to rule for too long.
This is a challenging time. We have much work to do. But with all of us working together, and music at our center we have no excuse but to rise up for justice in freedom’s name.
“We will not rest till the storm is over…we will not lay this burden down… we will keep each other strong..we will love and carry on till we stand, all together on solid ground. We are enough to get the job done! https://vimeo.com/409236657
In peace, song, and going to the polls!