New Music Inspired by Juneteenth & Racial Inequality
Juneteenth took extra precedence this year amidst ongoing protest about inequality faced by African Americans today. The holiday, which celebrates the emancipation of all slaves after the Civil War, inspired a slew of musical artists to release new material on the subject.
Although not an official government holiday yet, Juneteenth takes place on June 19 every year throughout the United States. It originated in Texas in 1865, where the last slaves were finally freed — following the Civil War, which was two and a half years earlier.
Music superstar Beyoncé debuted a previously unannounced new song on Friday, in commemoration of the holiday. Entitled “Black Parade”, the song made its debut on the streaming platform Tidal and promotes Black pride.
In addition, the singer announced that the song will benefit Black-owned small businesses. On Friday, Beyoncé also released a “Black Parade Route,” a directory of Black-owned businesses that’s powered by the National Urban League. The newly launched section on Beyoncé’s website includes an expansive list of Black businesses filtered by categories such as “Art & Design”, “Beauty”, “Fashion”, “Lifestyle”, and “Restaurants & Bars”.
Grammy-winning musician Alicia Keys also released a new song on Friday. Entitled “Perfect Way To Die,” it seeks to speak out against the injustice of police violence that’s often directed at African Americans.
“I have felt called by music like I have never felt before,” she said in an Instagram post announcing the song’s debut. “Sometimes I don’t have the words and music is the only thing that can speak.”
Keys said the new song was initially inspired by the deaths of Michael Brown and Sandra Bland. She is also collaborating on a campaign with artist Rapsody and activist and founder of Until Freedom, Tamika Mallory, to bring attention to the case of Breonna Taylor.
In addition, a teen gospel singer whose song protesting the killing of African Americans by police went viral — and he has since been signed by Warner Records.
12-year old singer Keedron Bryant posted his song “I Just Wanna Live” on social media in response to George Floyd’s death while in the custody of Minnesota police. Written by his mother Johnnetta Bryant, the acapella performance was shot on a smartphone with lyrics that purported: “I’m a young black man doing all that I can.”
The Florida native subsequently appeared on CNN, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and other programs.
Warner Records released his song on Friday in honor of Juneteenth and announced that 100% of the single’s net profits will be donated to the NAACP. Amazon Music will also donate $1 for every stream of the song on Amazon Music through 9 p.m. PST Friday to the NAACP, up to $50,000.