KUAR Listening Party: Civil Rights Brothers

M and I recorded for the KUAR Arts and Letters – “Civil Rights Brothers.” The show “Civil Rights Brothers” is based on Allan Ward’s book Civil Rights Brothers, The Journey of Albert Porter and Allan Ward which accounts his life as a civil rights activist. Both Porter and Ward organized demonstrations, meetings and literacy training in Jackson, Tennessee and continued to help the community in Little Rock, working with foster children, the homeless, and volunteering for public schools.


We worked on various versions of “Mr. and Mrs.” and “It Is Well.”

On “Mr. and Mrs.” we really focused on the lyrics –
“We’ll make the changes. We’ll say what needs to be said. And then we’ll do them in our hearts and our heads.”

Although the song was originally written about taking marriage vows, these lyrics applied to what the “Civil Rights Brothers” show was about. The idea that it can be difficult to stand up for what is right, but if you know it to be right, sometimes all it takes is the willingness to say what needs to be said – then your actions will follow your resolve. What was really great was that the song was played throughout one of the stories Ward tells of how they met with Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers who had resolved that he would die for this cause, but that the martyrdom was necessary to reinforce the necessity of the movement.

On “It Is Well” we really focused on how the song was executed –
We wanted something that would attack the resolve of what the song is about. We created the song based on an aggressive bass line. For the lyrics, Micah sang into a dying tape recorder and recorded the play back of the tape.

The hymn was written by Horatio Spafford in a response to his tragic life events (financial ruin and the deaths of all of his children). We didn’t produce the entire song, but did use the following lyrics:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Our version of the hymn was played during the show when Ward describes a very intense situation for Albert Porter during a selective buying march with students. It was an almost surreal moment when a man came out of the crowd with a pistol and violently threatened Porter’s life. Porter, who was so dedicated to the movement responded peacefully, “you must do what you think is best, and I will continue to do what I think is best.”

We attended the listening party at KUAR studios. We brought some white chocolate covered rice krispie treats dusted with coco powder and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Some of the other musicians that also worked on this show were there and we were given a private performance of “One Simple Prayer” written just for this show by Gil Franklin.

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We went to the studio and all listened to the show. We were able to talk about the show afterwards and it was a great discussion!

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Listen to KUAR Arts and Letters: Civil Rights Brothers.


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