Six members of the choir on activism, joy, and their favorite songs.
– KEYS SOULCARE
Founded in the wake of the 2017 Women’s March, Resistance Revival Chorus has grown into a 60-plus collective of women and non-binary singers united in song.
Clad in signature all-white for audiences from The Roots Picnic to an impromptu vigil for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the NY County Supreme Court steps, they provide soundtracks of solace, joy, and persistence at pivotal communal moments. (Their studio recordings and just-released album, This Joy, have become a Sunday staple in a few of our team’s homes, too.)
We spoke with five members — actor Alba Ponce de Leon, artist/educator Kate Quartfordt, singer/songwriter Meah Pace, filmmaker Nara Garber, and composer Nilusha Dassenaike — about why they keep raising their voices.
Why do you resist in song? When I’m singing with my sisters about the world we know is possible, it’s electric. I feel it in my whole body. Singing roots resistance in joy. And joy can move mountains.
What is your favorite song lyric? “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” — from “Ella’s Song” by activist Ella Baker
What is your highest vision for why you sing? I sing for a world in which every human being is able to live into the fullest expression of their birthright. I sing to remind each one of us — myself included — that we are not in this fight alone.
Why do you resist in song? Songs can teach, heal, uplift, motivate, and unify massive amounts of people. I’ve seen it! It’s a really beautiful thing. Singing is such a powerful weapon against hate and chaos.
What is your favorite song lyric? “This joy…the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away!” — from This Joy, on The Resistance Revival Chorus album of the same name.
What is your favorite song to sing with the choir and why? “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round” by The Freedom Singers. I feel a sense of collective power and strength when we sing this song. It’s also really easy so others can pick it up, sing along with us, and feel empowered. And physically… it just feels so good in your gut!!
Why do you resist in song? My mother would tell me bedtime stories about Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, and their contributions to the ongoing fight for civil rights. I was initially so young that I conflated them with other mythological figures like the Greek Gods, but as I got older, these stories accrued weight and context.
What is your favorite song lyric? “Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons, is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers’ sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” — from “Ella’s Song” by Ella Baker.
We’ve sung “Ella’s Song” at rallies and protests in which the audience might be largely Black and/or are already primed to receive this message. On those occasions I feel that we’re singing these lyrics in community.
What is your highest vision for why you sing? The breath support that singing demands, and the way the vibrations of your voice resonate through your organs and bones make singing feel simultaneously like an act of generosity and one of self-care.
Singing in any tradition reminds us of our common humanity, and right now we need that reminder as citizens of a struggling world.
Why do you resist in song? It brings my singing voice and my social justice voice together in unison. Standing for a cause and bringing a melody to the message is one of the most noble ways I can [carry] awareness, love and joy into the hearts and minds of those who are listening and receiving.
What is your favorite song lyric? “It holds the key to every heart; Throughout the universe, it fills you up without a bite, and quenches every thirst. So…if it’s magic, then why can’t it be everlasting. Like the sun that always shines. Like the poets in this rhyme. Like the galaxies in time.” — from “If It’s Magic” by Stevie Wonder.
What is your favorite song to sing with the choir and why? “Light in the Soul” [from the Chinese proverb “Where There is Light In The Soul”] because of the wisdom it holds: ignite the light in your soul first, then see the effect it has on your heart, your family, the nation, and the world.
We want to hear from you now and always. How are you keeping your voice heard and whose can you empower alongside it? Shout it out and share in the comments.