For anyone who, who like me, wasn't already aware of Jaki Shelton Green is the first African American woman to become Poet Laureate of North Carolina and this album marks her first foray into making a spoken word album and it's an album for our times full of powerful spoken word performances.
The album opens with This I Know For Sure (Featuring Jennifer Evans) a poem that links to the current rows about slave traders and how anyone one a slave ship who died or fell sick would be tossed overboard with Jennifer Evans providing background humming in spiritual style. While in the UK that argument is about Colston and Bristol it obviously links to this tale that goes to Galveston and its part in the blood-stained carnage of the slave trade.
Mad Woman has a minimal synth backing for a poem about the Mad Woman and the things that have made her Mad that all stems from the Patrimony and how it always ensures Women are downtrodden and Black Women even more so, as she asks questions about why you love that flag so much and just why you might open your thighs to one of these oppressive men and obey his commands, this is uneasily thought provoking.
The Communion Of White Dresses is a poem for all the women in White Dresses and it reminds me of the women I see going to or from the various Ethiopian Churches in London as well as those slaves on the plantations and then as the poem develops and we find out what happens to the women in these dresses who may or may not be as pure as the white might suggest. It also reminds me of the Bonnie Besses in the Sea Green Dresses on Rev Hammer's Freeborn John album about the English civil war.
Letter From The Other Daughter Of The Confederacy asks several awkward questions, such as, could she have been your black Confederate Concubine or Dominatrix and all the other crimes committed against black slave women by the slave owners this has some interesting background ghostly sounds to help stir the emotions in the poem.
Litany For The Possessed (Feat Shirlette Ammons) has more of a hip hop feel and backing that makes it sound similar to Linqua Franqa (Or Mariah Parker) as the Litany runs through the names of the oppressed and killed by the White Oppressors this is an anthem for the revolution that appears to be unfolding Black Lives Matters and fighting a battle now that should never have to be fought in the same way as Mariah Parkers new Podcast with Dopeknife Waiting On Reparations (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waiting-on-reparations/id1516642543) does.
Djinn Is a short interlude that asks the question what tree you would like to be strung up on, she chooses Birch. That leads into I Want To Ask The Trees just how they feel about being used for Hangings and lynching's and other terrible tortures, if the tree had a choice would you have refused to take part? As the poem unfolds so more questions are asked and suddenly the history of the trees and earth of where you are become imbued with the events that have taken place there never forgetting the human tragedy.
Oh My Brother is a list poem of memory of far too many brothers who have been killed for no reason by the Police in the USA, read against a slow bass rhythm memorializing all the pointless death and gun crime that stains the United States for evermore as the strings gently help the eulogy to touch deep within us as we hear more and more tragic news.
No Poetry (Ft CJ Suitt) is a list of the things that there really are no words to express the sorrow for all the lives wasted in the twisted system that enslaves and oppresses Black Lives in the USA and in the unfolding plague times new civil war for positive change and unenslavement.
The River Speaks Of Thirst (Ft Nnenna Freelon) has a feeling like the most pared back songs June Tyson sang with the Sun Ra Arkestra when Nnenna is singing back Jaki's lyrics to her while also feeling like something Nina Simone could also sing as the questions are asked how such a terrible history can be turned into a brighter day.
A Litany For The Possessed (FT Shirlette Ammons) Is a hip hop rap shout out to all the people you should be able to name just from a first name, this talks about all sorts of good bad and essential black history the backing sounds similar to what Wes Da Ruler is doing this is a heavy message in heavy times in the midst of upheaval it also feels like a tonic for the times.
Find Out More at https://jakisheltongreen.com/ https://www.facebook.com/Soul-City-Sounds-109210470671463 https://jakisheltongreen.bandcamp.com/