A vision for Vow

December 4, 2010

Back in 1997 or ’98 I was driving home from a concert by the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus. The theme had been “silliness,” so I was still in good spirits as I recalled different tunes from the show.

“When suddenly…” this song was suddenly there. Like in Amadeus where Salieri said it was as if Mozart were taking dictation from God. Not that God had anything to do with it, since I don’t believe in the guy, but my POINT is that suddenly there was a song in my brain and heart that hadn’t been there before.

The piece was built around a central chorus: “I hold this body holy/I hold this body sacred/I hold this body inviolate/I reject your violence, your hatred, your story.” It was a piece about domestic violence and I felt the passion rise in my being as more of the song unveiled itself to me: “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.”

This was like no domestic violence piece I’d heard before or since. It crackled with passion and rage. Not like some lily-livered singer-songwriter lament that just seems to say “it’s too bad men beat women but <sigh> that’s the way it is.”

I worked on the song for some time. The sections with “Hey, hey hey hey” were actually inspired by some John Mellencamp work.

I first sang the piece for my soul-sister Cam while she was on a creative retreat. She was in awe of the piece but rightly pointed out that the Mellencamp influence was out of keeping with the rest of the song. 🙂 I worked on it more until it was ready to be born.

The piece has been performed by the Bloomington Feminist Chorus and by the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus. It’s on the IWC’s CD To Sing Is To Fly. (I have  to be honest, I don’t find the IWC version to be as kick-ass as the Bloomington version—it lacks the intensity of our version. But I loved that they did it.) The piece has received a standing ovation every time it’s been done. I can barely take credit for it. It’s a transformational piece, both to hear and to perform. It’s explosive.

Since those days I have long wanted to form a community choir and do the piece as part of a larger benefit for Middle Way House, our local women’s shelter and life transformer. It’s too good a song to have it mouldering away in my music cabinet. It really needs to be a choral piece—a lot of women singing it—so the intent is that much more powerful.

There are grants through the City that I could apply for in order to bring this to life, but I feel like I need a partner in crime. It’s too big to pull off by myself, plus I need someone else to organize that benefit!

Hurm…now that the vision has resurfaced I don’t know if I’ll be able to let it go. I have a few people in mind that I could contact. I wonder if now is the time to bring this to life.

I claim my life, my love, my rage!