My 4th of July gift to you today is truly a gift from The String Queens: Élise Sharp, cello, Kendall Isadore, violin, and Dawn Johnson, viola. If you are lucky you saw them when they played at the Chrysalis in 2018. I let a little rain keep me home and I am still kicking myself.
Their original piece, “From See to Shining Sea” was created through funding from American Music Abroad. From their description of the piece on YouTube:
Appropriately bookended with quotes from "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," this medley tells a story of freedom, hope, heritage, culture, TENSION and triumph. Our medley, which also features "Battle Hymn of the Republic and America the Beautiful," was influenced by Negro spirituals, gospel, soul, classical, and even bluegrass genres.
The String Queens trio vowed to create a piece that represents US - our story, our history, our ancestors, and our sound - played OUR way. As you listen to each part of the medley, we pray that the rich harmonies, soulful sound, and heartfelt rhythms will bring peace and comfort to your spirit this holiday weekend and beyond.
The video begins with thoughts on what the day has meant to them in the past, and what it means to them today. These words from Kendall Isadore stood out:
…the first time in my life that I realized that what I thought I knew, what I thought was truth was - - I had been lied to all my life - - that the Fourth or July was not about independence or freedom for me, for my ancestors at all. And I’m still grateful for the lineage, and all my ancestors, and our forefathers, and the forefathers of our nation, but we have to do a better job of telling the truth And I think that now, as a musician, as an educator, as a daughter, as a black woman - - we have a responsibility to tell that truth.
And that’s what history should truly be about. Telling the truth. Right now there’s a whole lot of people fired up with a notion that we should not dig deeper or use our brains to explore episodes and trends in history that we might not have known before. That is not, and never has been, telling the truth.
I’ve raised my daughters firm in the belief that telling the truth is an essential value. And I believe that must carry over to our life as a nation. If we are not strong enough and brave enough to face the truth and tell the truth then we have nothing to stand on. And nothing to celebrate.
Learning from The String Queens this 4th of July was truly a gift to me. I hope it will be for you as well.
Here it is: From See to Shining Sea. (Time of video: 5 minutes, 29 seconds)
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