Resistance Revival Chorus | photo by Ginny Suss | courtesy of the artist
Resistance Revival Chorus release video of “Ella’s Song” in honor of Juneteenth and Ella Baker
Music collective Resistance Revival Chorus just released a video for their recording of “Ella’s Song,” in commemoration of Juneteenth and Ella Baker. The recording was also released as part of Bandcamp’s Juneteenth campaign, with all proceeds going to the Movement for Black Lives.
“Ella’s Song” descends from the words of civil rights activist Ella Baker, which were turned into an a cappella piece written by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and performed by the ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. This arrangement, produced by Tiffany Gouché under the direction of RRC musical director Abena Koomson-Davis, originates from Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely’s recording in celebration of the 2017 Women’s March, with added vocal harmonies arranged and taught by Sound (Julie) Brown.
Koomson-Davis says of the song,
I first heard Sweet Honey in the Rock perform Ella’s Song as a teenager. I was galvanized by the power of collective singing to shift the focus of our hearts to justice, dignity, and oneness. The call and response has echoed in me ever since, and in many ways is the foundation of my work as a musician and educator. It demands that we honor Black lives, that we honor our children, that we honor womanhood, and remain steady in the fight for freedom. I do not take the anchoring phrase “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes” as a dismissal of self-care or some capitalist grind philosophy. It is not “I cannot rest,” It is “WE.” It is akin to the tradition of West African dance, drumming and song, where the “WE” generates continuous movement and music. While individuals and partners may take breaths between passages, our collective contributions keep the song of freedom playing. May WE boldly sound these efforts, ever toward LIBERATION.
The video captures photographs and video footage from the recent protests over George Floyd’s death. Many of the photos in the video are taken by members of the Chorus themselves, including Brooke Williams, Kisha Bari, Dina Rudeen, and Ginny Suss.
The Resistance Revival Chorus is made up of over sixty women and non-binary singers, who join together to “breathe joy and song into the resistance, and to uplift and center women’s voices, especially the voices of black women and women of color.” They span many different creative and activist backgrounds, and were founded in the wake of the Women’s March. They announced earlier this year that they plan on releasing a full length album, This Joy, on Ani DiFranco‘s Righteous Babe Records, featuring original compositions and protest classics.
Purchase the recording on Bandcamp here, and watch the video below.