George Floyd Kin Joins The Protest Anthem Album Undertaking Oklahoma Information
NEW YORK (AP) – Before a nightly rehearsal in December, Terrence Floyd couldn’t remember the last time he’d crouched on a drum throne, sticks in hand and ready to perform.
Certainly, he said, this has not happened since his brother George Floyd died by police last May in Minneapolis, sparking a worldwide reckoning of systemic racism and police brutality.
Now Terrence bestows a talent he developed as a youth in a church band to produce and promote an upcoming album of protest anthems inspired by the Black Lives Matter demonstrations partly sparked by his brother’s death.
“I want to show my respect to my brother as best I can, whether it’s a march, if he’s just talking about him to someone, or if he’s doing what I do and playing the drums,” Terrence told The Associated Press.
“His heartbeat has stopped beating,” he said, “but I can beat for him.”
The untitled project, due to be released a year after George Floyd’s death, follows a long history of messages of racial justice and protest slogans that spill over into American popular music and culture. Music, in particular, was a means of raising awareness of grassroots movements, and often carried desperate pleas or angry battle cries over the waves of the air.
Terrence was recruited to the project by Rev. Kevin McCall, a New York activist. He believes there is still no album of street-inspired protest anthems.
“Those protest chants that were created were monumental,” said McCall. “It created a movement and not a moment.”
Some songs make bold statements, like the lead single of the protest anthem album “No Justice No Peace”. The well-known protest chorus that became popular in the U.S. in the 1980s was heard by millennials before joining the frontline of their generation’s civil rights movement, McCall said.
McCall can be seen on the track with his fiancée, singer Malikka Miller and the choir members of the Grace Tabernacle Christian Center in Brooklyn. The song is currently available for purchase and streamed on iTunes, Amazon Music, and YouTube.
Godfather Records, a label owned by David Wright, pastor of the Grace Tabernacle Christian Center, plans to release the seven-song album. His late father, Timothy Wright, is considered the “godfather of gospel music”.
“We mix gospel music with social justice to reach the masses,” Wright said. “We have always been empowered by songs like ‘We Shall Overcome’ and ‘Wade in the Water’. I want to give it a new twist. “
There is a story of the interplay between music and black protest. The 1991 beatings of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers and the contemporary “War On Drugs” reinforced the 1988 NWA anthem, “F (asterisk) (asterisk) (asterisk) as police” and “Fight the Power,” released 1989. More recently, Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”, Beyoncé’s “Freedom” with Lamar and YG’s “FDT” have provided a soundtrack for many BLM protests.
Legendary musician and activist Stevie Wonder released his hit song “Happy Birthday” in 1980 as part of a campaign to recognize the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a federal holiday. The King’s Day, which faced years of resistance at the national level, was officially recognized in 1986, three years after receiving support from federal legislators.
Some historians cite Billie Holiday’s musical rendition of Abel Meeropol’s 1939 poem “Strange Fruit” as one of the sparks of the civil rights movement. The song paints in devastating detail the time of the lynching of black Americans for decades after the abolition of slavery, often as a means to terrorize and repress those who sought racial equality.
The new film “United States vs. Billie Holiday” shows the real struggle of the jazz luminary to perform the song despite opposition from government officials. Singer and actress Andra Day, who portrays Holiday in the film, recently told the AP that the importance of the song influenced her decision to take on the role.
“It was she who sang this song despite the government that revived the movement,” said Day. “And that was really an incentive for me.”
Todd Boyd, the Katherine and Frank Price Chair in the Study of Race and Popular Culture at the University of Southern California, said many of the most famous protest chants came from civil rights and black power movements and then inspired songs.
“That’s how culture works,” said Boyd. “Something that starts in a room can very easily become something bigger and wider if the movement itself has an influence.”
Terrence Floyd said the protest anthem project felt like an appropriate way to honor his brother’s memory. For many years before his death, George Floyd was engaged in music – he was occasionally invited to rap on mixtapes produced by DJ Screw, a fixture on the local Houston hip-hop scene.
“If his music didn’t make it out of Houston, I’m using my musical ability from Floyd to reach people on his behalf,” said Terrence.
AP entertainment reporter Jamia Pugh from Philadelphia contributed.
Morrison is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/aaronlmorrison.