27.2.17

the living is easy

I'm writing a scene and in it, a live band is playing one of my all time (if not the) favourite songs ever, Gershwin's 'Summertime'.

"Porgy and Bess" is the first opera I ever fell in love with as an elementary school choir girl, and even though my contralto/mezzo soprano is more suited to Sam Cooke and other jazzy versions, the true opera rendition always brings me to tears. And it doesn't get much better than this Kathleen Battle performance.

Here's very eloquent explanation of this very famous song that a lot of people aren't aware of (part of the problem, if there ever was one):

"Too many women of every race sing the most well-known song from the opera “Porgy and Bess“, “Summertime” with no understanding that George Gershwin wrote it for a BLACK WOMAN SLAVE holding a white child telling him/her that everything is gonna be alright cause ‘your daddy’s rich and your MAMA’S GOOD LOOKIN”, while she’s breast feeding this child and cannot even FEED her own chillun’ or her chillun’ have been sold to the plantation owner 100 miles away and she may never see them again." 

Source: Words We Speak

These days, I refuse to listen to anyone but black singers sing this. The pain of a slave Mammy is so well encapsulated in these lines, these notes, that my heart breaks for the people who were dehumanised so much, that their families were broken apart by cruel slave owners, and black mothers forced to care for rich white people's children, like their own. And you know what? They did it, without any malice. Black women deserve so much of our respect, love, reparations, and above all, they should never be made to provide free labour, emotional or physical, ever again.


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