say their names

(words from a news story)

Year: 2020

Instrumentation: voice & piano

Duration: 7 minutes

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Program Notes

Today, the second of June 2020, musicians everywhere seemed united by the hashtag #theshowmustpause – a day to reflect on an America where blacks can still be murdered by police while going about their business. Reading the news, I found a list of names in an NPR Code Switch story. The authors turned to resources like Mapping Police Violence and The Guardian to read names of people from across the country, of all ages, in an effort to learn more about each person’s final moments before the police ended their lives.

As the authors acknowledged, their list, as painful as it is to read, is far from complete. There are too, too many black men and women, who have died at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect.

An unusual text for a song, but the list struck me as sort of a poem dedicated to the last moments of each of their lives. Setting their words to music seemed like an appropriate way to spend the day, immersed in reflection on the abrupt ending of their lives.

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