From the recording Forever Free
Featuring Joniece Jamison and John Meldrum.
As I studied the text of MLK's famous oration from August 28th, 1963, I noticed that Dr. King quoted Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation from exactly 100 years before. And when I read Lincoln's words I knew I had my song. ("That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State... shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free"). The song flowed out naturally and quickly. Dr. King's point was precisely to remind all Americans that the law existed on the parchment of the Emancipation Proclamation for Over 100 years, yet the reality in many States of the Union was that segregation was everywhere.
The performance that you hear of "Forever Free" is not yet definitive, but it has its merits. I wrote this tune with Joniece Jamison in mind, she's such a great singer, I had always hoped to sing with her. This song is the linchpin of Peace Oratorio, and the concept behind future performances is that it should be a white and a black singer singing the duet together. We shall always be TOGETHER Forever Free, the inference being that not only were the African- Americans slaves to the system, but the white masters and their families were too. Nobody was free in this barbaric and unnatural way of life. NB In the narration to introduce this song, I have used a direct excerpt of Dr King's writings because his words are simply inimitable and beautiful. I hope that the song "Forever Free" does justice to this unique moment in American history.
NARRATION : As he looked over the crowd of hundreds of thousands of people, he later wrote, “It was an army without guns, but not without strength. It was an army into which no one had to be drafted. It was white, and Negro, and of all ages. It had adherents of every faith, members of every class, every profession, every political party, united by a single ideal. It was a fighting army, but none could mistake that its most powerful weapon was love. We had strength because there were so many of us, representing so many more. We had dignity because we knew our cause was just. We had no anger, but we had a passion- a passion for freedom. So we stood there, facing Mr. Lincoln and facing ourselves and our own destiny and facing the future and facing God.” Copyright 1998 The Heirs to the Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. Taken from “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” p. 222-223 Edited by Clayborne Carson Published in paperback 2007 by Abacus / Little, Brown Book Group with the permission of Intellectual Properties Management, Inc.
FOREVER FREE The great beacon of hope has haunted ye, Those words Lincoln wrote, “ Forever Free”, Yet still ye are bound up in chains Invisible though they may be For o’er a hundred years From sea to shining sea I have a dream, so strange ,so true Those words Lincoln wrote We shall now renew So let us move on hand in hand Together we go black and white, Let no one tear apart These states we shall unite We are free, free We are free, T’is plain for all to see that We shall be Forever Free Outsiders ye roam forlorn in your own land This place ye call home too long have ye been banned But now there shall blow winds of change To scatter the ashes of hate The promise will be fulfilled before it is too late To be free, free, We are free, T’is plain for all to see that We shall be Forever Free Where there is faith, Ye will find hope The blessing of this nation is how well we always cope We shall move forward into the Promised Land The innocence of children shall help us understand Choir : We are free, free We are free, T’is plain for all to see that We shall be Forever Free Forever Free, Forever Free Duet : T’is plain for all to see that We shall be Forever... Free