The Resistance Revival Chorus released a video for their powerful recording of “Ella’s Song” in celebration of Ella Baker on Juneteenth. Today, “Ella’s Song,” composed by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, is now made available on all DSPs via Righteous Babe Records. The RRC will donate 100% of the proceeds for the year to the Movement For Black Lives.
The video for “Ella’s Song” includes footage and photographs of the recent protests that have taken place over George Floyd’s death. The video is a photo based treatment using photos from photographers in the chorus including Brooke Williams, Kisha Bari, Dina Rudeen and Ginny Suss.
The lineage of this song follows the great tradition of civil rights music to honor heritage, embrace new voices, and respond to truth as a collective. This version, composed by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, first performed by internationally lauded a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, uses the words of Ella Baker to speak truth to power. Produced by Tiffany Gouché, under the direction of Resistance Revival Chorus Musical Director Abena Koomson-Davis, this arrangement originates from the recording created by Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely in celebration of the historic 2017 Women’s March, with added vocal harmonies arranged and taught by Sound (Julie) Brown.
Says Abena Koomson-Davis of the importance of Ella’s Song, “I first heard Sweet Honey in the Rock perform Ella’s Song as a teenager. I was galvanized by the power of collective singing to shift the focus of our hearts to justice, dignity, and oneness. The call and response has echoed in me ever since, and in many ways is the foundation of my work as a musician and educator. It demands that we honor Black lives, that we honor our children, that we honor womanhood, and remain steady in the fight for freedom. I do not take the anchoring phrase “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes” as a dismissal of self-care or some capitalist grind philosophy. It is not “I cannot rest,” It is “WE.” It is akin to the tradition of West African dance, drumming and song, where the “WE” generates continuous movement and music. While individuals and partners may take breaths between passages, our collective contributions keep the song of freedom playing. May WE boldly sound these efforts, ever toward LIBERATION.”