My newest song, Moses, is based on the gorgeous Caldecott Honor book, Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. The song is a fictionalized account of Harriet Tubman’s spiritual journey from runaway slave to conductor on the Underground Railroad. I found the book deeply moving, poignantly recounting the fears and struggles of a faithful woman on a courageous journey.
I have been intending to write a song about this book since the first time I read it over a year ago. However, I was paralyzed by an initial sense that I needed to write the song in a genre appropriate to subject of the book. Unfortunately, given my limited experience in writing and performing traditional styles of African-American music, after a year of mediocre attempts, I eventually realized that I would not be able to write a gospel song that did the story justice. Thus, I gave up on the idea of writing within a specific genre and just set out to write a song that was as good as possible – and the only way I was going to do that was to write in the genre that I know best (although I’m not sure of the best name for it: Singer-songwriter? Indie? Rock-pop?). I hope you’re not bothered that this isn’t a gospel, jazz or blues song; I’m sorry, I did my best!
So, here it is, the account of an epic journey that lies at the roots of our national history; a reminder of both our nation’s shame and the heroism it produced. This Black History Month (February), I want to remember Harriet Tubman’s courage. We are all on journeys; we all face the option of giving up or forging ahead. I hope that when we encounter obstacles that appear insurmountable, we can pray with Harriet: “Lord, make me strong. Help me fight.”
If you like the song, please share it with a friend – and let me know below!