When Florida security guard George Zimmerman was acquitted over his shooting of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2013, 18-year-old Jake Blount turned to the past to cope with his despair. “I wanted to know how music has historically allowed Black people to feel human in the face of racism,” he says. “My ancestors would have sung spirituals and work songs when they were enslaved – this music is all that remains of how they survived.”
Initially, Blount found their message jarring. “It felt like they were saying: ‘Life is terrible, but at least we get to die someday,’ which isn’t what you want to hear when you’re 18,” he says, laughing over a video call from his home in Rhode Island. “But I felt a sense of rightness in the act of singing them. This is music that my people have been singing for generations. It felt like what I was raised to do.”
Read the interview in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 27/09/22]