Joyful noise

Women’s voices raise the roof in a powerful act of resistance

The spirit of the great civil rights movements was felt at the Women in the World New York Summit, as 31 members of the Resistance Revival Chorus rekindled an old art form amid a perilous new era

“When the movement is strong, the music is strong.” Those stirring words from Harry Belafonte, an honorary co-chair of the Women’s March and leader of the Civil Rights Movement, have been a source of inspiration for the performers from the Resistance Revival Chorus, who swung onto the stage of the Women in the World New York Summit on Friday.

Dressed in white to symbolize unity and peace, the chorus members broke into a powerful, modified version of the traditional labor movement song, “The Rich Man’s House” – the same song they used to launch themselves publicly with a flash mob performance in New York’s Times Square in the summer of 2017.

Some of the poignant new lyrics include: “Well I, went down to the White House and I took back what they stole from me. Took back my dignity, took back my humanity. Now he’s under my feet, under my feet, under my feet, under my feet. Ain’t gonna let the system walk all over me.”

The collective, which was created in response to the Trump presidency, have since performed on the Grammy Awards stage with Kesha in January, released a recording of Lesley Gore’s feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me” and performed onstage at Carnegie Hall.

The Chorus also hold regular Resistance Revival Nights at various venues around New York City, drawing the community together to lift their spirits and elevate the protest songs that have been central to civil rights movements, as well as raising awareness for women’s rights movements, including #MeToo and #Times Up. “We believe that art and culture are essential to changing hearts, minds, and history; and we commit to the principle that joy is in itself an act of resistance,” organizers have stated of their mission. The monthly events also include a line-up of solo performers who are asked to sing a resistance song – either an original or a cover.

While the Chorus was started in New York, its member hope it will be replicated across the nation by other women, and its members have published a “tool kit” on Medium to assist others to organize their own groups and events.

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