Every so often something happens that makes the whole world stop and pay attention. Sadly, in the last few weeks, we have been shocked and stood still for the killing of George Floyd in America. #BlackLivesMatter is a statement that should be obvious and redundant – the fact that it seems to be needed more than ever now in 2020 is abhorrent and, will hopefully, at last, become something that brings people together in strength.
World events very often cause people to think “what can I do?” and for musicians and songwriters, the answer can be to write a song. This week, Angry Baby is bringing you two such songs from two of our favourite artists, Sadie Jemmett and Johnno Casson.
Sadie’s ‘The Killing of George Floyd’ is accompanied by a simple lyric video whose stark black and white imagery effectively portrays the problem. Recorded at home in lockdown, Sadie says
I have written this protest song as a response to the brutal and unlawful killing of George Floyd. I understand that as a white person I can have no real experience of what black communities have to live through. But as a songwriter I can use my voice to stand in solidarity with communities, friends and fellow musicians all over the world. Any future revenue made from this song will go to the naacp.org to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and wellbeing of all persons.
Although written in direct response to the killing of George Floyd, Johnno’s ‘World Needs Changing‘ addresses the issues that needs changing, personified by George Floyd. Johnno says
I’ve been so angered by the deep seated racism in America and the UK, and the horrible murder of George Floyd that I wrote a song about it. Being a white guy from Colchester I had thought, how can I possibly write a song about George Floyd, Black Lives Matter and the protests across the world and really know how it feels for the people deeply impacted by it? I had thought – what right have I got to comment on people’s stories from another country, people who live on the other side of the ocean and who’s life is so different from my own but then I thought – I’ve seen this evil racism all my life and I am disgusted by it, I’ve seen how the police treat people of colour, I grew up in a multi cultural Hackney and have witnessed (and stood against) racism and division. I have never felt so disgusted with authorities in America (and across the world) as I have this week (and I already know of the evil and deep rooted hatred that lives in the heart of the president, as I’ve followed American politics for the best part of 30 years and fear it’s only going to get worse with him). I have watched the videos of how the police treat black people in the U.S, I have listened to the stories, I have read the news and I have understood what is going on in America and recognised it is the same story on our streets and in our homes in the UK (perhaps without the guns) and I feel that white people really need to call out the hatred, the division and the deep rooted racism that continues to eat away at our communities and I stand in solidarity with the people this is impacting; it will only change if we all stand together and demand change.
One thing I can do is to write a song and call out racism and so I have.