07.30.2020

EXCLUSIVE! Sounds Of Blackness Releases “Sick & Tired” As The Group Honors George Floyd, Preps for 50th Anniversary

EXCLUSIVE! Sounds Of Blackness Releases “Sick & Tired” As The Group Honors George Floyd, Preps for 50th Anniversary

“Brother George Floyd’s murder represented something that’s gone on for 400 years. We couldn’t call ourselves ‘Sounds Of Blackness’ and not address it musically.”

By Michael P Coleman

Next year, the Minneapolis-based ensemble Sounds Of Blackness will celebrate their 50th anniversary. Gary Hines formed the group in 1971, on the eve of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, and continues as its Music Director / Producer.

Sounds Of Blackness evolved from the Macalester College Black Voices, which had been founded by Russell Knighton. Over the last five decades, Sounds Of Blackness has seamlessly fused jazz, blues, spirituals, rock & roll, R & B, gospel, hip-hop, and soul into an unmistakable sonic fabric that has garnered them multiple Grammy, NAACP Image, Stellar, and Soul Train Awards.

You might think, after so many years of recording and selling out venues across the globe, that Sounds Of Blackness would be tired.

Well, you’d be right: Sounds Of Blackness is “Sick & Tired,” as the group proclaims on their riveting new single. It is directly tied to today’s headlines.

“The lynching of brother George Floyd, just blocks from where I’m at right now, would have warranted a word from us,” Hines EXCLUSIVELY said by phone, from his apartment in Minneapolis. “We couldn’t call ourselves ‘Sounds Of Blackness’ and not address it musically. His murder represented something that’s gone on for 400 years and now finally, thanks to camera phones, is coming to light.”

“Tuesdays have been one of Sounds’s vocal rehearsal evenings, but the first protest for Brother George’s murder was on a Tuesday, so of course I cancelled rehearsal that night,” Hines recalled. “We all went to the protest…not as Sounds Of Blackness, but just as individuals. Out of the crowd of thousands, a white teenager with a Black Lives Matter sign approached me. She said she recognized me from the group, and said ‘I just know you guys are gonna do a song about this. Please don’t make it a happy song.’ “

“I said ‘Young lady, I promise you that will not happen!”

Sounds Of Blackness has kept that promise. “Sick & Tired” sticks to the ribs, as we used to say, with a message that is contemporary and timely, while reaching back to the ancestors, musically — just as they’ve always done.

And lyrically, “Sick & Tired” doesn’t half-step. When a song starts out quoting Fannie Lou Hamer, you know you’re in for a message!

“Since Brother Floyd’s murder, we’ve received dozens of offers to collaborate on peace and love songs, and it’s just not going to happen,” Hines emphatically said. “Sounds Of Blackness is ultimately about peace and love, but we couldn’t put peace and love on this right now, when the mood in the streets, the zeitgeist, the spirit of the time is one of outrage and righteous indignation, of anger and a call to action!”

“Paul Robeson once said that all true artists have a responsibility to their people,” Hines said. “Fannie Lou Hamer, back at the Democratic Convention in the 1960s, was saying she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and of the beatings, of being assaulted, of the lynchings, of the injustice, of the inhumanity. So we’re going to be responsible to the mood that’s out there right now.”

Read freelance writer MPC’s full feature and hear more from Gary Hines and Sounds of Blackness.  Hines has quite a lot to say about All Lives Matter, COVID-19 and the black community, and Donald J. Trump! 

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Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP