Rise In Love by Kaia, September 11th

September 9, 2011

Words and music by Ysaye M. Barnwell. ©2001 Barnwell’s Notes, Inc. Used by permission.
Arr. Cairril Adaire


Commissioned by The Mystic Chorale, Rise In Love is Barnwell’s/Sweet Honey in the Rock’s response to the events of Sept 11th. The piece is dedicated to Cesare Giovanni Mathis Melussi, born two weeks after 9/11. Barnwell says “Rise in love” emerged as a mantra she found herself saying over and over in the wake of Sept 11th. I took a more contemporary R&B approach to the piece, simplifying lyrics without losing the political edge and the call to love so beautifully expressed in Barnwell’s original. Our recording can be found on Kaia’s Get Down, Rise Up!. (Hear a sample)

See Kaia performing Rise In Love

(We asked Ysaye M. Barnwell’s permission to record and perform the song—to my delight, she not only said yes, she said she loved the arrangement!)

Here are my revised lyrics:

Dear one, I never thought that you would see such a time
I hear your cries
Dear one, there is a reason for these things, but there’s no rhyme
I hear your why’s

But I don’t have the answer to your questions
I don’t have answers for your prayers
I just know this is a moment of transcendence
If we just have the courage to care

Let us, let us, let us rise in love

Dear one, our world has changed in the blink of an eye
I hear your cries
Dear one, a part of each and every one of us has died
I hear your whys

But I don’t have the answer to your questions
I don’t have answers for your prayers
I just know this is a moment of transcendence
If we just have the courage to care

Let us, let us, let us rise in love

The universe is polarized by hatred
We ourselves have been baptized in fear
Some of us are even paralyzed in principle
And there’s anger in the falling of each tear

For so long we’ve just watched foreign agony
The tide has changed; now we grieve at home
Though we’re victimized by terror, we’re not innocent
Where’s the courage to change, oh the courage to change what we’ve condoned

Let us, let us, let us rise in love


Vow lyrics

December 4, 2010

Vow

© Cairril Adaire 1998

Broken Bruised Shattered And torn (You’re sorry)

Scarred Blistered Battered Unborn (Always sorry)

Incest Rape No more trust (You’re sorry)

You call it love You call it lust (Always sorry)

Terrorized Hypnotized Rooted to the spot (So sorry)

Eyes wide open Soul is cut (Always sorry)

Fear Nightmares Numbness Pain (So sorry)

Betrayal Violence Terror Flame

Our children are watching

Our children are watching

Our children are learning

Our children are dying

I try to make it better

I try to do it right

I try not to make you mad

I try to stop the fights

But what can I do when it’s too late

When the hands of love

Become the hands of hate

 

I heard on the news the other day

Yet another story ’bout a sistah blown away

I’m tellin’ you, the fire, it stops here

Listen to me, brothers, let’s make it very clear:

I hold this body holy

I hold this body sacred

I hold this body inviolate

I reject your violence, your hatred, your story!

Hey, hey hey hey

It stops here

Hey, hey hey hey

It stops today

Hey, hey hey hey

Your little game

Hey, hey hey hey

I won’t play

How long can this go on,

Father to son, we are broken,

Hey, we are broken

When will you face the truth,

Give up your abuse,

Broken, yes, you are broken

I’m tellin’ you today

I’m not gonna stay

In the place you’ve set for me

I’m stronger and I’m ready now

This is gonna stop, I take this vow:

I swear by the Earth and all I hold dear,

I will not stand by and watch this slaughter,

I will intervene, I’ll stand in your way,

You will not strike your sistah, your wife, your daughter

Hold this body holy

I hold this body sacred

I hold this body inviolate

I reject your violence, your hatred, your story!

Hey, hey hey hey

It stops here

Hey, hey hey hey

It stops today

Hey, hey hey hey

No more victims

Hey, hey hey hey

Because I say:

I hold this body holy

I hold this body sacred

I hold this body inviolate

I claim my life, my love, my rage!


Redbird lyrics

June 10, 2009

Redbird (AKA Deadbird)

Cairril Adaire

© 2008

 

Redbird, redbird

Settin’ in my tree

Redbird, redbird

Bring my love to me

 

Won’t you fly free now,

Give my heart ease

Come back to me, oh

Melt the soul of me

 

Bluebird, bluebird

Singin’ your sweet song

You bring happiness

But you don’ stay long

 

You’ll go flyin’ free, oh

And tethered here I’ll be

Won’ you come back to me, oh

And sing your joy to me

 

{guitar interlude}

 

White bird, white bird

Settle in my trees

You bear no scars

You know only peace

 

You once stayed with me, oh

But now you’re flyin’ free

Crimson stains my leaves, oh

It’s all that I can see

 

Blackbird, blackbird

With your broken wings

Blackbird, blackbird

You don’ ever sing

 

Your heart cries to me, oh

And I’m ready

Soar into this dark night

Take the soul of me

 

{Redbird / bluebird / white bird / blackbird}


Tatiana

April 26, 2009

This is an edited version of a monologue written by a playwright at the BPP circa 2004. See my original backstory for this script.

Nobody knows I have Mama’s white gloves, but I do. I was thirteen when I first saw them. Before that, I’d only seen them in the pictures.

The week after Mama’s funeral, Daddy and the boys were packing up all of Mama’s things. Daddy said it was too hard to have them in the house. And there they were, lying right there, on top of that box.

I think Mama would’ve wanted me to have them.

Sometimes I sleep with Mama’s white gloves under my pillow. Those are the nights when I have my favorite dreams.

I am looking through a keyhole, and on the other side is a glorious ballroom filled with men and women waltzing, almost as if they’re floating. They are all so well-dressed and look so stunning. 

I see Mama. She is the most beautiful one there. She dances about and the music flows through her body and drifts through the keyhole and whispers into my ears. Mama smiles.

Tomorrow, I have to wear my own white gloves. Grandmother bought them for me. I don’t want to wear them, though—I’d rather wear Mama’s. I try my gloves on and my arms suffocate. It is horrible. When I wear Mama’s gloves, I am alive.


Tatiana’s story

April 26, 2009

This is a backstory I wrote for the monologue Tatiana, written by an unknown playwright at the BPP. The monologue is about 2/3 page long and only hints at the recent past. I wanted to place Tatiana into a more extensive context, so I wrote this. Some of Mama’s history is drawn from the story of Irina Skariatina.

It is 1963. Tatiana sits in a tearoom in her Mississippi hometown, across from her maternal aunt. It is the day before her wedding. Tatiana is about to disclose a secret she’s never told anyone. For her aunt, the secret has much more resonance than Tatiana will ever know.

Tatiana has been raised as a Southern belle: polite, charming, well-behaved, and controlled. She had a very close bond with her mother (“Mama”), who died when Tatiana was 13. All Tatiana knows about her mother’s past is that Mama came from Russia a long time ago with Aunt and Great-Aunt and that they were part of the aristocracy in some way.

What we know:

Mama was raised in a large, aristocratic family and was a minor princess. She was born in 1906, the fourth of six children. After the Revolution, her family moved from city to city, trying to find a safe place. First her grandfather disappeared into Bolshevik hands, then her father. At that point her remaining family determined to attempt emigration. Great-Aunt went first with Mama and Aunt. Mama was 14. It was 1920.

Great-Aunt and the girls settled in Paris among the large Russian emigré population. Unbeknownst to the girls, Great-Aunt was pulling every string she could to try to get the rest of the family out of the Soviet Union. They had agreed to try to meet in Paris before deciding on a permanent home. Much to Great-Aunt’s frustration and fear, she heard nothing whatsoever from the family; indeed, she never heard from them again.

Great-Aunt and the girls stayed in Paris for two years, during which time Great-Aunt insisted on the girls’ keeping up their education and grooming for “polite society.” After seeing how quickly her finances were being exhausted, Great-Aunt determined to move to America in the hopes that she and the girls could leave the chaos of Europe behind and live comfortably within their means.

The threesome traveled to the United States, where Great-Aunt was drawn to the South for its culture of gracious hospitality among the well-to-do. She was actively grooming Mama, who was now 16, for a good marriage to a (preferably) wealthy man. While each of the threesome held onto mementos (photos, jewelry, clothing) from their past, they never spoke of Russia or the Bolshevik terrors again.

Even though Great-Aunt worked very hard to erase the girls’ Russian accents and replace them with a more Southern drawl, her efforts were only moderately successful. It took some time to break into polite society but their impeccable manners and air of mystery aided them.

Great-Aunt’s dream was realized when Mama married Daddy in early 1929. Mama was 23 at the time. Daddy was a landowner-turned-industrialist. Most importantly, he was rich. Great-Aunt and Aunt lived nearby until Aunt made her own, less “successful” marriage two years later.

The stock market crash and Depression didn’t affect Mama and Daddy’s social set to the extent it did so much of the nation, but they did recognize that times were tough. Still, they continued their old traditions of balls and debuts.

Mama gave birth to two boys (much to Daddy’s pride) and then, later, Tatiana. What no one but Mama ever knew was that Tatiana was named for the beautiful second daughter of Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra.

Daddy was never much interested in Tatiana. Mama, though, bonded strongly with her. She would sometimes show Tatiana the photos she had smuggled out of Russia, naming each stiff, unsmiling, gorgeously arrayed relative until Tatiana could name them herself. It never occurred to Tatiana to ask where these people were. All she knew was that her mother was glamorous and beautiful, with a wonderful voice and impeccable manners that people still commented on.

Mama died unexpectedly after a brief illness when Tatiana was 13. Almost immediately, Daddy packed up everything of Mama’s, including the old photos, and took them away. It was during this process that Tatiana recognized a pair of white gloves from the photographs. She immediately stole them and hid them from her family.

What Tatiana does not know is that the gloves belonged originally to her maternal grandmother, then to Mama. Mama was to wear them at her formal presentation to court when she came of age, but the Revolution intervened. Her mother made sure that Mama took the gloves with her when she escaped the U.S.S.R. Tatiana has seen them on her maternal grandmother in those faded old photographs that Mama showed her, but is not conscious of it.

Tatiana’s Great-Aunt had a large, dominating personality which was matched only by Tatiana’s paternal Grandmother’s. When Great-Aunt died a few years after Mama, Grandmother filled whatever vacuum was left. Tatiana’s Aunt was more quiet, sympathetic, and sweet—a Russian-Southern angel. Aunt never talked about Mama but didn’t stop Tatiana from doing so.

All parties were determined to raise Tatiana as a proper Southern belle. Daddy didn’t bat an eye as Great-Aunt and Grandmother took Tatiana in hand after Mama died. Tatiana wanted to please them all. More than anything, she wanted to capture the elegance and grace of Mama. She idolized her memory and tried to do everything as she imagined Mama would have done. This sometimes brought her into conflict with Grandmother, who inevitably won. Tatiana confined her acts of rebellion to dancing with Mama’s gloves or sleeping with them under her pillow.

When it came time for Tatiana to think of marriage, she was oddly reluctant. She did not self-examine too closely. She just said that all the boys she knew were “boring.” The pressure from Daddy and especially Grandmother continued to mount until both said they would cut her off without a cent if she didn’t marry within the year.

By then, Tatiana was 26 and running out of options. She’d had a decent education but she was primarily trained to be a decorative ornament for her husband. After reviewing the few candidates remaining to her, she chose Frank, a middle-aged widower with plenty of money. Frank placidly accepted a year-long engagement but the day of the wedding is finally come.

Tatiana and Aunt are having tea in an establishment patronized by the wealthy of their town. About 15 years from now, Tatiana will rebel against the strictures of her society and her family and lead her own life, but today she is shocking herself giddy with a mad confession long held silent. She knows that she will squeeze her arms into her own white gloves tomorrow and be a beautiful and dutiful wife, but she is comfortably numb about exactly what that will entail.

Aunt is safe to confess to. She’s never been completely accepted by the family, partly because of her more gentle personality. Tatiana knows that her secrets will be safe with her. She is also subconsciously trying to reach out to Mama on this day before her wedding and reclaim some of that old wistful magic. To Tatiana, it feels like tomorrow is the end of her life.

Read the monologue


Not One More Day lyrics

March 29, 2009

NOT ONE MORE DAY

By Cairril Adaire
© 2008

Oh, freedom (2x)
Oh, freedom from bein’ ignored
We don’t want no more
Of this endless, pointless war
Not one more dollar
Not one more death
Not one more day

No more sufferin’
No more killin’
No more pain in my name (in my name)
Can you look me in the eye
And say all those people deserve to die
Not one more dollar
Not one more death
Not one more day

No more sendin’ our poor
To fight a rich man’s war
No more blood, blood for oil (no more blood for oil)
I’d rather be poor
Than see my country fight this war
Not one more dollar
Not one more death
Not one more day

No more spyin’
No more lyin’
No more secrets
No more shame (we are better than this)
We take to the streets and say
We are standing in your way
Not one more dollar
Not one more death
Not one more day

Not one more dollar
Not one more day
Not one cent of my money
Spent in this wicked way
Not one more death
Not one more death
Not one more of our children
Not one more of theirs

No more torture
We’re forced to pay for
No more torture
In my name (we are better than this)
I still believe
In the land of liberty
Not one more dollar
Not one more death
Not one more day


Lyrics: Not One More Day

November 30, 2008

Not One More Day
Melody based on Oh, Freedom 
© 2008 Cairril Adaire 

I.
Oh, freedom (2x)
Oh, freedom from bein’ ignored
We don’t want no more
Of this endless, pointless war
Not one more dollar, not one more death, not one more day 

II.
No more suffering
No more killing
No more pain in my name (in my name)
Can you look me in the eye
And say all those people deserve to die
Not one more dollar, not one more death, not one more day 

III.
No more sending our poor
To fight a rich man’s war
No more blood
Blood for oil (no more blood for oil)
I’d rather be poor
Than see my country fight this war
Not one more dollar, not one more death, not one more day   

IV.
No more spying
No more lying
No more secrets
No more shame (we are better than this)
We take to the streets and say
We are standing in your way
Not one more dollar, not one more death, not one more day 

V.
Not one more dollar
Not one more day
Not one cent of my money
Spent in this wicked way

Not one more death
Not one more day
Not one more of our children
Not one more of theirs

VI.
No more torture
We’re forced to pay for
No more torture in my name (we are better than this)
I still believe
In the land of liberty
Not one more dollar, not one more death, not one more day