New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Rhiannon Giddens has teamed with composer Michael Abels - known for scoring Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning 2017 film Get Out - and members of the Met Opera Chorus and Nashville Ballet for a new interpretation of her song "Cry No More." Following the murder of Breonna Taylor, Giddens re-recorded the track to emphasize its timeliness with added fervor, as she makes a plea for unity against injustice.
The video captures the featured instrumentalists and string players, along with the many faces that make up the Met Opera Chorus, as they sing Giddens' message directly into camera: "The bedrock of the nation / Was laid with these brown hands," and continue onto, "Our legacy is mighty / We can't carry this alone / You have to help us fight it / And together we'll be home," as Nashville Ballet dancer Imani Sailers floats across the screen.
"When I wrote this song back in 2015 after a white supremacist committed mass murder at a South Carolina church," Giddens says, "I had no idea that in five short years America
would look like it does right now. The song still felt almost unbelievably current and after I added a couple of verses I reached out to my Omar collaborator Michael Abels for a new version for 2020, and I am speechless at the number of incredible artists who lent their light to this project—from the Metropolitan Opera Chorus to various members of the Sphinx Organization, to the Nashville Ballet, and the folks behind the scenes who brought the sound and the vision together. Now more than ever, Art needs to lead the way to a better place. It's only over if we give up.
"'...the world is all messed up.
The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land;
confusion all around... But I know, somehow,
that only when it is dark enough
can you see the stars.' —Martin Luther King, Jr."
Giddens first wrote and released "Cry No More
" in the wake of the Charleston church shooting in 2015, one of the largest racial massacres in modern US history. "No matter what level of privilege you have, when the system is broken everybody loses. We all have to speak up when injustice happens. No matter what," she said at the time, a message that she is stressing again today.
Rhiannon Giddens was recently announced as the Artistic Director
of Silkroad Ensemble. The cross-cultural music organization was founded over 20 years ago by Yo-Yo Ma and, in her role, Giddens will work with the ensemble to explore the cultural exchanges that have built American music. She also appears in Samuel L. Jackson's Epix show Enslaved, airing now, a docu-series on six slave ships that sunk with their human cargo while crossing the Atlantic during the slave trade.