Shortly after four mothers who had lost children to gun violence finished a panel discussion on the work they’d been doing to prevent further tragedies, Trishaun Coleman took the stage at the 2016 Women in the World New York Summit. The mothers, remaining on the stage, joined hands, and Coleman, without accompaniment, softly moved into a heartfelt rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Coleman’s expressions moved between sadness, intense focus, and flashes of an uplifting smile. As she sang the beginning of what would be the final verse, a rush passed through the crowd as the familiar lyrics took on new meaning: “Maybe there’s a God above / But all I’ve ever learned from love / Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.”
Five times, in as many years, Coleman has stood by the coffin of a murdered friend. The list includes her then boyfriend, Roemello Golden, who died at age 17 in the summer of 2012. Coleman was with Roemello when another 17-year-old named Keon Tolliver, a friend of Roemello’s from their childhood years, walked up to him, shook his hand, and shot him 11 times with a semi-automatic pistol. “I don’t want to sing at any more funerals,” Coleman has said.
Speaking after Coleman’s performance, Women in the World founder and CEO Tina Brown announced that the young singer has decided to take the test to become a police officer, where she hopes she can work to prevent further violence.