The lineage of this song follows the great tradition of civil rights music to honor heritage, embrace new voices, and respond to truth as a collective. This version is a descendant of the words of Ella Baker, which inspired the composition by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, performed by internationally lauded a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. Produced by Tiffany Gouché, under the direction of Resistance Revival Chorus Musical Director Abena Koomson-Davis, this arrangement originates from the recording created by Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely in celebration of the historic 2017 Women's March, with added vocal harmonies arranged and taught by Sound (Julie) Brown.
Says Abena Koomson-Davis of the importance of Ella's Song in this moment, and in light of Juneteenth, "I first heard Sweet Honey in the Rock perform Ella's Song as a teenager. I was galvanized by the power of collective singing to shift the focus of our hearts to justice, dignity, and oneness. The call and response has echoed in me ever since, and in many ways is the foundation of my work as a musician and educator. It demands that we honor Black lives, that we honor our children, that we honor womanhood, and remain steady in the fight for freedom. I do not take the anchoring phrase "we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes" as a dismissal of self-care or some capitalist grind philosophy. It is not "I cannot rest," It is "WE." It is akin to the tradition of West African dance, drumming and song, where the "WE" generates continuous movement and music. While individuals and partners may take breaths between passages, our collective contributions keep the song of freedom playing. May WE boldly sound these efforts, ever toward LIBERATION."
Composer: Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon
Originally recorded by Sweet Honey In The Rock
Producers: Tiffany Gouché, Abena Koomson-Davis
We Who Believe Chant by Toshi Reagon
Choral arrangement: Abena Koomson-Davis
Additional vocal arrangements: Julie (Sound) Brown
Lead Vocal: Abena Koomson-Davis
Singers: Resistance Revival Chorus
Percussion: Elizabeth Pupo-Walker
Mixed by: Jaclyn Sanchez
Mastered by: Jett Galindo
Executive Producer: Ginny Suss