Throughout the history of human oppression, musicians have used their voices to command political and social change. Fela Kuti toured the world criticizing political corruption and even founded a communal compound called the Kalakuta Republic which he declared independent from the Nigerian government. Nina Simone was the voice of the American civil rights movement of the 1960s, with songs like “Mississippi Goddamn” and “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.” Bob Marley inspired the globe with his songs of peace, love, unity, and human rights. Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, KRS One, Bono, Bob Dylan, Tupac Shakur, Billie Holiday, Pete Seeger, Gil Scott-Heron, Tom Morello, Kendrick Lamar, John Lennon, Neil Young, Mos Def . . . the list of musician/activists is endless.
Encouraged and inspired by these incredible heroes, and motivated by my own anger and sadness about the tremendous social injustices in our world, I wrote a song called “My Angel”, which I released today. The song is a memorial to the black American citizens whose lives have been taken as a result of the racist military industrial complex in our country. In the song, I sampled Alton Sterling’s wife speaking after his murder last year — today, July 5th 2017, is the one year anniversary of his death.
I stand in solidarity with all who struggle for social justice in America. I stand in solidarity with my global family which continually thrives under oppression, responding heroically with art, dance, theater, literature, music, community organizations, boundless expressions of knowledge and experience, and creative demands for justice and peace. It is an honor to be able to use my voice and my platform as a means to connect my heart to the hearts of others, in our journey of creating a world where all humans are treated with dignity and respect.
Photo By Ueli Frey (http://www.drjazz.ch/album/bobmarley.html) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]