This June, I once again had the honor of marching in Nashville’s Equality Walk as part of the City of Nashville’s Annual Pride Festival. Just two weeks after the horror in the gay bar in Orlando, the mood was hopeful and encouraging. Over 20,000 people attended the celebration, which included 100 new vendors, plenty of live music, and a delightful new Kids’ stage. Over 3,000 people showed up for the walk (1,000 more than last year) – including members the Metro Police Department, in uniform, for the first time.
I moved to Nashville in 2001, and the Nashville Pride event that year consisted of only a couple hundred people. Nashville has grown, yes, but more importantly, fear is being pushed back. Hope, the all important and necessary ingredient of liberty, continues to expand.
Every June, when I go to Pride, I am reminded of the importance of community and standing for what I believe in. There’s no going back. We have come too far. People are good. Love is everywhere. Do not give up. Ever.
Human evolution is fueled by change. Dr. King believed the long arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. It is human change that arches the bow. For us to change collectively, we must evolve individually. The fuel that advances us is truth, in all its forms.
As a songwriter, and a songwriting teacher, I believe the most revolutionary act a songwriter can engage in is to simply be honest. Words matter. When paired with music that amplifies their meaning, they become passageways to hope: for the individual, the group, a nation, and the world.
Elie Wiesel said, “Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift only we can give one another.” Truthtelling is necessary for a civilized society to remain civil. When artists are silenced, either through censorship, fear, or greed, it is the beginning of the end of freedom of speech. It heralds the dissolution of the collective spirit of a people.
No form of creative expression is more popular than songs. An education is not required to understand them- they are embraced by all strata of society. Great paintings may go unseen; great novels unread; but great songs have the most pronounced chance of crossing the divide, reaching in, and affecting multitudes.
Here’s to the truthtellers, the artists, and the songwriters; to all the brave souls on this planet that show up and report back from the front lines of the struggle for justice and truth. I am with you.