|R.I.P. Kalief Browder May 25, 1993 - June 6, 2015|
30-year-old Philadelphia singer-songwriter-musician Melody Gardot takes a bold new direction both musically and lyrically on her fourth full-length, released June 1. Poignantly entitled 'The Currency of Man', its fifteen tracks explore themes of social justice, including racism and homelessness. The outstanding song "Preacherman" is a powerful eulogy for 14-year-old Emmet Till, murdered in the summer of 1955 in Mississippi.
It seems to me fitting to post the haunting video accompanying "Preacherman" as a tribute to 22-year-old Kalief Browder. Held at the infamous Rikers Island prison in NYC without trial for three hellish years (2010-2013, nearly two of them spent in solitary confinement) for a crime he did not commit, his brief time as a free man came to an end this past Saturday June 6 when he hanged himself at home in the Bronx.
I urge you to read the full October, 2014 story written by Jennifer Gonnerman in the New Yorker as well as the June 7 obituary, also written by Gonnerman; see links below. Kalief's death may be classified as suicide by hanging, but in reality his death was caused by racism and gross miscarriage of justice. His tragic story boggles the mind, tears at the heart and scars the soul, just as Emmet Till's story continues to do, sixty years later.
Gardot kicks off her extensive summer and fall European tour schedule this week with a show Friday June 13 in Deauville, France.
"Preacherman" was directed by Calum MacDiarmid who splits his time between London and L.A. The video was shot in and around the Mississippi city of Canton, a popular filming location. The remarkable lead is Jackson, MS native Jeanna Dampier. A molecular biologist by day, this is her first major role. In the clip she carries her son Arthur; her husband Reggie Dampier plays the preacher. (Their daughter Elizabeth was the voice of young Tiana in the 2009 Disney feature 'The Princess and the Frog'.)