For me, music is a part of life, as much as nature or air are. Music is all around us, I hear it in the trees bending under the weight of the wind, in the wistling beacks of the birds outside my bedroom window, in the water rushing through the rivers and waterfalls, I even hear music in the lack of noise, I hear it in peace and calm, it relaxes me and helps me rest and forget about my everyday problems. Music supports me through bad times, but it's also there to prevent me from forgetting my good times, thanks to music I can relive the best moments of my life just by hearing a note. For me, music is about expressing your emotions and feelings, letting them come out once and for all, just letting go. Whatever my mood is, I always can find a music to fit it, I am never alone.
But music is also a way to unify people. It has the power to bring us together, it can overcome hate and pain and help us stand up for what we believe in. It can give a voice to any cause. That's why I chose, to start the #musicoverhate movement, I wan't music to overcome all of the negative emotions, words and actions and make us stand together instead of against.
When I come in times of trouble ,
Mother music comes to me,
singing words of wisdom,
let it be,
you can lean on music ,
it will never let you down,
fixing all the problems,
let it be,
if you're feeling love or anger,
or any other energy,
it will hold you close
let it be
These are all the words that come to me when I think about music.
Throughout History, music has often brought people together or help those without voice speak up against discrimination and injustice, these songs are known as protest songs, the first one we will study is Po'Lazarus, before talking about Wade in the water by When will we be paid and Formation and Hallelujah.
Po'Lazarus was a song written by an unknown author. It's story follows the death of Po'Lazarus, a baddy. He was wanted "dead or alive" by the sheriff and his deputies for being a thief. When the police finally finds him, they shoot him with a "forty five". After hearing the news Po'Lazarus's family mourns his death but isn't able to go to his funeral because they don't have any shoes.
This song was sang by African american slaves as a work song during their long hours of labor. It helped them concentrate on their hardship and keep from boredom. The resume was staedy and repetitive to help the slaves work in sync.
But more than a way to pass time, this song was a way to convey a message of unity and denounce, poverty, inequality and injustice. This song was indeed a protest song.
Wade in the water:
« Wade in the water » is a spiritual song sang by Harriet Tubman as a warning to runaway African-American slaves. It indicated these escaping slaves to abandon the path they were using in favor of the water. The water would hide their scent and prevent their masters and their dogs from finding them.
These kind of songs were part of an abolitionist movement called the Underground railroad.
The Underground railroad was a loose network of abolitionists who believed slavery was against their believes, either because it was against the Christian religion or beacuse it was against the vary basics of a free country like the United States of America.
Now, the Underground Railroad was neither Underground nor a Railroad. The Underground Railroad members helped free the African American slaves and led them to their freedom. All the activity was centered around the Ohio river and the most commun safe places aka freedom destinations were Canada and Mexico.
It is important to know that the Underground Railroad was a very secret and illegal network, and all the member's were risking their life and freedom for the sake of the African-Americans' life and freedom.
To help the slaves reach the safe places they were dreaming of, songs like "Wade in the water" were created. What the masters thought were innocent lyrics just their to fit the rythm were in fact indications to the nearest safe place. "Wade in the water" was a map song.
Many "white" people thought the lyrics meantioning water were talking the tradition of baptism but it was in fact a code telling the runaway slaves to walk in the water to hide their scent and foot prints.
But the signifiance of baptism isn't diminished by the song it is rather took quite litterally. For example, in the last verse of the song, « If you don’t believe I’ve been redeemed, follow me down to Jordan’s stream » Tubman dares the other slaves to cross the Jordan River, a reference to Moses' journey in the Old Testament, crossing the River Jordan means abondoning life as a slave and being free at last, just like the baptism tradition was meant to be, a purificating ritual.
In this song the river refered to is the Ohio river. If the slaves managed to cross the Ohio River, they would finally be free.
Also, the verse « See that band all dressed in red, looks like the band that Moses led », is a reference to Harriet Tubman and the espaped slaves, seeing as her nickname was « Moses » because she led so many of her people to freedom.
This was a protest song against slavery and racism, she believed we are all equal and no skin colour should lower you down or higher you up to others.
When will we be paid:
"When will we be paid" was a protest song written by The Staple Singers an african american band composed by 5 members of the Staple family. This family/band was a key voice in the 60's as civil rights icons, along side Martin Luther King.
This song recaps all the african-american's history, from the begining of slavery to the civil rights movement. They were abducted from their land, forced into slavery, segregated, treated like animals, inferior to the white people race, denied health care, "called names", "beat up" "shot down and stoned", they "cooked" their masters food and "washed" their clothes, "picked cotton and laid the railroad steel", worked their "hands down to the bone" and so on. Without ever being thaks, paid or seen as human beings.
All these humiliations they survived are written in the Staple Singers' song. They made the list and know are waiting for payback, "when will we be paid for the work we've done?"
They are asking to finally be treated as equals to the whites, to be able to call America their home, their country, to sing out loud "Sweet land of liberty" or "My country, tis of tee.". They are asking to end the struggle against opression and racism.
Formation is a song written by Beyonce, it was released last year, just before the Super Bowl. It was a big deal due to Beyonce's celebrity status but also because of the movement it's supporting and standing up for. The Black Lives Matter movement.
For the first time of her career, Beyonce stopped sugar coating her words, she stood up for what she believed in without being subtle. She decided to sing her heart out even if some are offenced. That's why she starts out her song by clearly indicating all the "haters" she dosing care about their opinion, "Y'all haters cocky with that illuminaty mess", a refernce to all the inbelieveable stories they made up. She "twirls on the haters".
"Formation" 's clip is set in New Orleans, images of Mardi Gras, the Katrina hurricane, a flood are settled in to help situate ourselfs. The only people in the scene are black, in this song and clip, Beyonce is showing how proud she is to be black and standing up for all the black people being discriminated because of their skin colour. She celebrates her roots, her parents being from Louisiana and Alabama, she is reminding everybody she didn't forget and will never forget where she's from. She also states how much she adores her skin colour and curves and features it gave her, the "baby hair and afros", her "Jackson five nostrils", and above all, her "hot sauce swagg".
She also shows how much power she has and that all this power, she "earned it", she is telling us how much she worked for what she has now, for her fame and money, she says "I get what's mine" to show she never let go of her dreams and that she always achieves her goals, she's a "star" and she "slays". She slays so much that she repeats that fact on and on until transforming it into a overall achievement from all black people, she transforms the "I slay" into "we slay". She is leading her people, leading a "formation" to show black lives and girls lives matter. "Ladies, know let's get into formation." She is building up every black people's confidence by telling them they "might be a Bill Gates in the making".
But she knows nowaday is a bad time to be black, that's why she talks about "thunder" because she is grieving,like every black person in the US, she grieves the death of Trayvon Martin, an innocent African american boy who would have been 21 in 2016, he was killed by a neighborhood watch volonteer, while doing absolutely nothing. That racist crime sparked the light to the black lives matter movement. That's why , in the clip, we can see a sign saying "STOP SHOOTING US" and an other one saying "HANDS UP DON'T SHOOT", it's clearly a message to the police who are waisting innocent black lifes without any reason.
She is standing up for what she belives in, protesting angainst racism and discrimination.
The longest video out of the two is the actuall trailer to "Let me in" and the shortest is the audio version.
Hallelujah is a protest song by Alicia Keys, she wrote it to support refugee throughout the global crisis happening.
In this song, Alicia Keys plays an american mother who fled the US with her two children because of the war that started in the country; This song and video clip are the trailer to "Let me in" a film by Jonathan Olinger, he too supports the refugee in this horrible crisis.
In this movie and music, Alicia places us, citizens of developped countries, into the refugees' feet, she is showing us that refugee doesn't mean poor or uneducated, it means innocent and unlucky, it means you were forced to flee your comfortable home, you had earned, because of insecurity and life threatening crisis. This clip is showing us that absolutely anybody can be a refugee, and that everybody needs to help control the crisis and help the brave souls who were forced to flee their homes.
They both are asking the developped countries to help the refugees in. "Let me in" and "please protect me from my Tears" are both lyrics cleary asking the countries capable of to save the refugee. Alicia is asking for shelter, thinking like a refugee, "Is there a place I can go where the lonely river flows?", after weeks, months of running, she wants to rest, or at leats she's asking for a place for the victim to find shelter. She witnesses how long the road has been for her, "every step makes me think that I'm closer, but somehow I just never arrived".
Religion is very present in this song because of the strenght, compassion and kindness it can someone, she is trying to support the refugee's by the strenght of this prayer. She is standing up for what she believes in, she is giving the refugees a voice.
"Jazz is not just music, it's a way of life, it's a way of being, a way of thinking. . . . the new inventive phrases we make up to describe things - all that to me is jazz just as much as the music we play." Nina Simone
I love this quote because it reminds me of amazing memories from when my mother used to drive me to school or anywhere else, she would always turn on the radio and go to the jazz station, I comlpetely agree with Nina Simone, I grew up with jazz and I am thankfull it has always been in my life to help me through bad times. So yes, I believe in music, I believe music is a way of life.
Finally, I would like to end this presentation by saying how much I am greatfull of music to always have been their for me and for any body who has ever needed a voice to stand up for them and for what is right.