Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year-old colored boy who was murdered in 1955 by two white men for the perceived crime of wolf-whistling at a white woman.
Chris O and Jonathan Beckenstein in 2016 collaborated over Soundcloud on a song called “The Lowlands” which honors the relatives and strangers who stood up in seeking justice for the murder of Emmett Till.
At the time Chris and I spoke about what music to include in her recent interview, Chris mentioned this song. Chris had composed the lyrics as part of a collaboration with Jonathan Beckenstein in New York who wrote the music. All of this collaboration took place through the medium of Soundcloud. That was intriguing enough but as I became familiar with the background to Chris’ inspiration in writing these lyrics I realised we needed to do a separate podcast on this topic, to bring the focus just to this song and the event that motivated it.
Please take some time to explore the following links, particularly the YouTube video, to get a better understanding of the horror of this event but which led eventually to the end of racial segregation in the USA.
I have also included a link to another Jonathan Beckenstein collaboration, We All Know How It Ends, that Chris recommended.
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- The Untold Sory of Emmett Louis Till (YouTube)
- Lowlands by Chris O & Jonathan Beckenstein (Soundcloud)
- the-lowlands-lyrics-and-notes (PDF)
- Emmett Louis Till (Wikipedia)
- Strange Fruit by Billie Holliday (Soundcloud)
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (Wikipedia)
- We All Know How It Ends (Soundcloud)
Thanks for taking an interest in the song, Mike. It is a challenging and somewhat
difficult piece, and it’s good to know that you were engaged and moved enough to
try to bring it to more people through your podcast.
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