Musicians Speak Out
By Madeline Barry
Many musicians have taken to social media this past week to voice their opinions on the recent protests, and to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement. Instagram is the favored platform for these displays of solidarity. The list below consists of five talented musicians from different musical backgrounds who have all used Instagram to show their support for those who are taking to the streets to demand action.
The renowned jazz musician Jon Batiste, who is known for his eclectic genre-bending style and his role as bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, announced the release of his new musical project on his Instagram account. The 30-minute album is called “Meditations”. The songs, which have names like “Prayer”, “Relationships” and “Teardrops,” are meant to encourage listeners to meditate to these themes. Batiste hopes the album will channel feelings of empathy as it relates to “genuine and lasting change”. As for the album’s timed release, Batiste writes on his Instagram page,
“It is fitting that we are releasing this album during such a tumultuous time for the black community and I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a black artist in America. The reality is, no matter how successful or visible you are, you are vulnerable to the same common set of injustices simply because of the color of your skin. I have come to learn that while there is a lot that is outside of my control at this time, when it comes to my art I have the utmost freedom in the worlds I create, the space that I fill and the values I live out with my fellow humans.”
Singer Fiona Apple whose new album Fetch the Bolt Cutters was just released in April, protested at a Black Lives Matter rally in Santa Monica on Monday this week (June 1). Photos of the singer appeared on her friend’s Instagram (the singer does not have her own Instagram account). Apple proudly holds a sign that exclaims “Cops: Don’t be White Chauvinists! Arrest the other three!”
Musician Oteil Burbidge, known for his work with The Allman Brothers Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Dead and Co., posted pictures of himself marching in his undisclosed hometown on his Instagram page. Burbidge also posted photos of his children decorating homemade “Black Lives Matter” signs. In one particularly poignant photo, Burbidge, who is black, stands beside his young son holding a poster that reads “Is My Son Next?” The caption reads,
“George Floyd was another victim in a long line of murders that break the hearts and tests the minds and spirits of people like me who identify with him and his family and friends...It’s been this way here in America since the very beginning. It’s baked in the cake. It’s in our collective DNA...Taking part in this small protest is the only thing that has given me some real relief even if it is temporary. Hearing so many cars beeping in solidarity showed me that right here in Trump’s backyard there are many that oppose this cancer in the body of America.”
Country singer-songwriter Margo Price vocalized her support of the Black Lives Matter Movement by staying silent. Beneath a photo of a young black woman kneeling before a line of heavily armed riot officers, she writes,
“In solidarity with the black community and to challenge my own white privilege, I will not be playing any of the live streams I had planned nor will I be sharing my own content starting today through June 7. I will be using my voice solely to bring light to the tragedy and suffering for my black brothers and SHOULD THIS BE SISTERS? Sister.”
Cardi B, the animated Bronx-born rapper who is known for fearlessly speaking her mind, posted an Instagram TV video in which she addressed looting, the role of social media in police violence, and the importance of voting.
“Seeing people looting and going extremely outraged, you know it makes me feel like yes… finally mutha******* gonna hear us now…. It do scare me and I don’t want anyone to get hurt. It’s just really frustrating, you wanna know why?... Police brutality has been more visual since social media really started getting poppin’… Let’s say since Instagram started, how many peaceful protests have we seen?... People are tired...so now this is what people have to resort to.. And another thing, I also want to say this...Another way for the people to take power.. It’s by voting. And when I say voting, I’m not only talking about the President… We have to vote.”
The punk rock poet, Patti Smith posted a black and white photo of George Floyd holding his daughter, Gianna, as a baby. His hands are wrapped protectively around her tiny body, and his mouth is open, as if he is in the middle of singing her a song. She stares back, wide-eyed. Smith captioned the photo with a poem.
“This is/ unblemished love, a love/ that should have been able/ to daily grow. What will this/ child be told of us? Of George/ Floyd’s murder? Banners are/ tossed in the river, words/ that are not magnified by/ deep systemic change are/ but words. I look at this image/ and hear the lines of Blake;/ Little lamb who made thee?/ Dost thou know who made thee.”
Madeline Barry is a high school English teacher at Northside Charter High School in North Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She teaches three sections of senior English and two introductory Latin classes. Figuring out virtual learning, listening to music, and writing for The Insider has kept her semi-sane during the quarantine.