As the Black community (and increasingly more of our nation’s non-Black community) faces the sad reality of racist police violence that has recently led to the senseless deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and others, creators like Siedah Garrett have interpreted this collective pain into art…and given a voice to those who can no longer speak.
In her just-released live performance video of “The New Frontier (Say Their Names),” the Grammy-winning and two-time Oscar nominated singer-songwriter (made famous through her work with superstars like Michael Jackson) is giving a raw emotional glimpse into the depth of this moment, and of the Black Lives Matter movement. A mix of sorrow and hope for the future, “The New Frontier” refuses to let the deaths of Floyd, Taylor, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin or any other victim be forgotten. But all the while it holds us up to a higher standard, the new frontier of a future where love unites and frees us all.
As Siedah Garrett explains, “performing this song is an intense experience for me. While I’m singing, I am feeling the pain for all of the lives that have been snuffed out, and all of the families that have been robbed of their loved ones. The refrain, “say their names,” is meant to bring home the reality of their brutal murders, and I’ve just not been able to sing it without tears…”
|With a music career stacked with accolades and accomplishments, Siedah Garrett has nothing to prove when it comes to her talent. But the willingness to open her heart and soul to share the vulnerability of “The New Frontier (Say Their Names)” is something truly remarkable. Singing from the heart is a trait she has become known for, but at a moment in American history with so much heaviness, her voice is carrying much more than just a song. When will there be justice/ when will there be peace/when will we see love as you and me/ when will there be kindness/ on the new frontier/that’s the day that love will conquer…fear.|
The video above shares an intimate stage performance with Garrett’s band,directed by co-writer and former Prince guitarist Michael “Fish” Herring, sporting protective masks as they accompany her emotional (but pitch-perfect) vocals. Performed at the Agape International Spiritual Center’s Sunday Service, the simplicity of the expression fits the thought-provoking message well. Watching Siedah channel the feelings that so many of us can’t find the words to express is powerful, and she herself knows how important this art really is: “Music speaks to us from the inside out. Politics and news comes to us from the outside in. I wanted a way for us to express ourselves and I wanted to write the emotion down that I was feeling…I knew that if I was feeling it, others were feeling it too.”