Won’t You Help To Sing? is a suite for solo guitar. The work was created in the summer of 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd. It is inspired by the African proverb, “When you pray, move your feet.” To this end, the suite is both a call to prayer for victims of police violence and a call to action for racial justice. ¹ ²
Won’t You Help To Sing? begins with “Amazing Grace,” a hymn that was penned by a slave trader, adopted as a spiritual, and now serves as a universal prayer for hope in times of suffering. The second piece, “Breathe,” is an original composition dedicated to the memory of George Floyd; it is partly-inspired by the Lutheran tradition of four-part chorales. “In Christ There Is No East Or West,” the third movement, is a hymn that beckons for brotherhood and unity; the version performed here is based on guitarist John Fahey’s well-known rendition. The suite concludes with an arrangement of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” a protest song which calls for the freedom of Black lives amidst centuries of enslavement and oppression.
The suite’s title is borrowed from the chorus to Marley’s anthem; the question it poses is an invitation for us to not only sing these songs of freedom, but to embody their messages through our actions. Won’t you help to sing?
June 18, 2021