Listen

Search form

Declaration of OWS Set To Music

Declaration of OWS Set To Music
Wed, 4/11/2012

Performance artist Reverend Billy Talen, the fearless and flamboyant figurehead of the Church of Stop Shopping, has taken the carefully written declaration of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and translated it into song.

The gospel-tinged composition, simply entitled “The Declaration Of The Occupation Of NYC,” is an infectious, inspirational musical mantra that humanizes the text in a way you can't feel just by reading it. "Mic-check," a woman sings, launching into a lively, choir-backed call-and-response: "We are the 99 percent, we are the 99 percent."

A pioneer of New York street-theater activism, Reverend Billy, a staunch anti-consumerist, is infamous for staging protests against corporate giants such as Walmart and Disney with the help of his 35-member gospel choir. His exploits were the subject of a 2007 documentary called “What Would Jesus Buy?”, which followed The Reverend and his Choir on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the evils of commercialism.

Last fall, after first viewing the OWS Declaration and sharing it with the choir, Talen decided that it would work musically as well and inspired, he assigned soprano Laura Newman and pianist Nehemiah Luckett to compose a song. Newman, a longtime Stop Shopping choir member, was elated to be part of such a prestigious project and saw the opportunity to borrow the traditional “call and response” technique often used in Gospel songs to make the “Declaration” song easy to learn and to sing.

Newman immediately recognized the similarity between “the People’s Mic,” the vocal call-and-response method of communication used during General Assemblies (because amplification was not allowed by police) and the call-and-response technique of Gospel and began collaborating with Luckett. The result is a grand rhapsody of justice and solidarity with a killer piano bass line and an intricate web of vocal harmonies.

Talen said he's been re-energized by the scope and intensity of the Occupy Movement. In 2007 he was arrested in Union Square for singing a musical version of the First Amendment too loudly, and since then he's been itching to do a project like “The Declaration Song."

The entire musical piece is 17 minutes long and now available online as an 8-song EP that is free to download. The music video above comprises the first few minutes of the song, “We Are The 99%” ; a music video of the song’s conclusion, “To the People of the World,” is now in production.

Planning is underway for a touring multimedia touring show called “The Occupy Circus & Film Festival" which will feature short films from Occupy Cinema, a feature film by Newman and a live performance of “The Declaration Of The Occupation Of NYC." The 12-city tour begins in the Midwest in May and will also tour the Southwest and California.

To find out more, check out Reverend Billy’s site.

 

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Paris climate accord, COP21, carbon emissions, 2 degrees C, emissions reductions, renewable energy transition, renewable energy investments, clean energy investments, solar power, wind power, fossil fuel divestment

Changing the way the world is powered means big spending – and huge investment opportunities – with energy finance models suggesting clean power investments need to rise by an additional 75 percent, to $12.1 trillion, in the next 25 years.

Chinese monetary policy, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Chinese currency, Chinese currency manipulation, Special Drawing Rights, rising dollar

If war and hostilities between the great powers are to be avoided, the future of global capitalism may well rely on a combination of Western markets and institutions backed up by totalitarian institutions like the regime in Beijing.

Few police shootings of Latinos make national headlines – a lack of attention and outrage that stems from a poor understanding of the history of state violence against them in the U.S.

U.K. housing prices, soaring home prices, soaring rent costs, Eviction Resistance, housing bubble mortgage-backed securities, Great Recession, rising homelessness

Housing prices in London have risen by 50% in the last five years – and when the UK property bubble goes boom, it will be proportionally bigger than the U.S. housing bust at the onset of the financial crisis in 2007.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, corporate trade deals, Investment Court System, German Magistrates Association, Investor State Dispute Settlement, ISDS, Global Justice Now

The German Magistrates Association (DRB) last week dealt a major blow to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as judges said special courts allowing firms to sue countries were unnecessary and "had no legal basis."

This week we passed the five-year anniversary of Tahrir Square, but do we even know – or care – what's happening there now, and do we see the parallels with what's going on right here? We speak with an Egyptian activist who sets the record straight.

Posted 5 days 20 hours ago

The media, which came to the story so late, can only process so much – but if you live in Flint or the State of Michigan as I do, you know all too well that what the greater public has been told about the water crisis only scratches the surface.

Posted 4 days 6 hours ago
Flint water poisoning, Flint water contamination, Flint lead poisoning, water privatization, Rick Snyder, Darnell Earley

Incidences of poisoned water, not isolated to Flint, are snowballing into a colossal emblem of government's prioritization of corporate interests and profit over the basic health and human rights of citizens.

Posted 5 days 44 min ago

Congressional hearings on the Flint water crisis were convened on Wednesday – but two people who should be in the hot seat weren't there. Next up, Iowa Caucus: Is this what Democracy looks like? And Obama signs the TPP.

Posted 4 days 6 hours ago
Kamala Harris, Southern California Gas Co, methane leaks, Sempra Energy, Clean Power Plan, emission reductions, climate change goals

The civil suit accuses Southern California Gas of violating state health and safety laws when it failed to promptly control the release of 80,000 metric tons of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Posted 5 days 20 hours ago

Congressional hearings on the Flint water crisis were convened on Wednesday – but two people who should be in the hot seat weren't there. Next up, Iowa Caucus: Is this what Democracy looks like? And Obama signs the TPP.

Kamala Harris, Southern California Gas Co, methane leaks, Sempra Energy, Clean Power Plan, emission reductions, climate change goals

The civil suit accuses Southern California Gas of violating state health and safety laws when it failed to promptly control the release of 80,000 metric tons of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Responding to tough talk by presidential candidates about price gouging by drug companies, pharmaceutical executives have told investors that they are working actively to influence the political debate.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, corporate trade deals, Investment Court System, German Magistrates Association, Investor State Dispute Settlement, ISDS, Global Justice Now

The German Magistrates Association (DRB) last week dealt a major blow to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as judges said special courts allowing firms to sue countries were unnecessary and "had no legal basis."

The federal agency warned of an unfolding toxic water crisis in Flint but was “met with resistance” by Michigan authorities, a fiery congressional hearing into the city’s public health disaster revealed Wednesday.