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

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Everybody Loves My Baby

November 29, 2008

SSAA. Based very closely on the Boswell Sisters’ classic rendition. Voicings are almost identical. All instrumentation has been stripped or converted, such as the bass line combining several of the rhythm instruments from the originals ’20s-era recording. I kept the scat, but simplified it to make it humanly possible to sing.

This took Kaia about a year to nail and it’s one of the most technically challenging pieces we’ve done. You’d have no idea it was so difficult when you just listen to the Boswells doing it! Phenomenal musicians. I prostrate myself in homage.

Everybody Loves My Baby sample by Kaia


Rise In Love

November 22, 2008

7-part arrangement. Ysaye M. Barnwell/Sweet Honey in the Rock, 2008. I fell in love with this powerful examination of September 11th upon first hearing. But I also felt that the lyrics were too academic and the style didn’t unleash the power of inner song. But who the heck am I to question Sweet Honey?? With much humility, I arranged this seven-voice version in an En Vogue-influenced style. Lead trio of women’s voice, an “angel trio” of women’s voices, and a rockin’ bass that should probably be sung by tenors instead of altos.


I Will (No Man’s Land)

November 22, 2008

6-part arrangement. Radiohead. An adaptation from Radiohead’s brilliant tune on Hail To The Thief. I’ve had several people say they like this a cappella version better than Radiohead’s original. (I love them both, so take it for what it’s worth.) High soprano must be capable of sustained, legato high tones.


Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

November 22, 2008

SSA. Jimmy Kennedy & Nat Simon. Arrangement credit really needs to go in part to Kaia for this one. The first time through it’s sung in a slow, cool jazz style. The repeat suddenly takes a crazed turn to a Broadway-style Brooklyn. Very fun to sing and a big crowd-pleaser.


Durme, Durme

November 22, 2008

SSA. Ladino lullabye. Written in 3 but it’s really more of a 6. Nice, lilting lullabye.


On Our Way To Freedom Land

November 22, 2008

SSAAA with solo. African-American gospel. Crank it up! This hard-driving gospel tune was adapted during the civil rights movement to inspire activists. My version retains the call-and-response style but with more rhythmic diversity and an extremely active bass line. This piece requires soloists who really know how to wail.