Cry No More by Rhiannon Giddens
Last night Tree of Life UU Congregation held a Parking Lot Vigil in memory of George Floyd at the same time a public viewing was being held in his home town of Houston, Texas. We were just one of several faith communities holding similar vigils at the same time, organized by the Faith Leaders of McHenry County. Ours was a powerful and moving experience. A high light of the event was a performance by Cassandra Vohs-Demann and Billy Seger of Cry No More.
|Cassandra Vohs-Demann and Billy Seger perform Cry No More at the Tree of Life UU Congregation George Floyd parking lot vigil while observing social distancing.
They could not have picked a more appropriate song. Rhiannon Giddens wrote Cry No More in 2015. She described the circumstances:
The massacre at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June is just the latest in a string of racially charged events that have broken my heart. There are a lot of things to fix in this world, but history says if we don't address this canker, centuries in the making, these things will continue to happen. No matter what level privilege you have, when the system is broken everybody loses. We all have to speak up when injustice happens. No matter what. And music is one of the best way I know to do so.
|Cry No More was inspired by the 2015 murders by a white supremacist at Mother Bethel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. But it is just as timely today.
Giddens is an extraordinary young artist. She is a major star in what is now called American Roots Music—a mix of traditional folk, county, bluegrass, blues, and gospel that is an alternative to Nashville based and radio driven commercial country music. She got the attention of many people who do not follow that musical niche when she was featured extensively in Ken Burns’ epic Country Music PBS series. She defies expectations because she is a Black artist in a mostly white genre.
|The amazing Rhiannon Giddens.
Giddens was born February 21, 1977 in Greensboro, North Carolina and is a founding member of the country, blues and old-time music band Carolina Chocolate Drops, as the lead singer, fiddle and banjo player. In addition to her work with the Grammy-winning Chocolate Drops, Giddens has released two solo albums, Tomorrow Is My Turn I 2015 and Freedom Highway in 2017. Her latest album, There Is No Other, is a collaboration with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi was released in 2019. She appears in the Smithsonian Folkways collection documenting Mike Seeger’s final trip through Appalachia in 2009, Just Around The Bend: Survival and Revival in Southern Banjo Styles and in 2014, she participated in the T Bone Burnett-produced project The New Basement Tapes along with several other musicians, which set a series of recently discovered Bob Dylan lyrics to newly composed music. That is an eclectic body of work by anyone’s standards.
Today’s video was shot at the United Congregational Church in Greensboro and features its choir.