Black History Month and Valentine’s Day Thoughts
MUSIC TRAVEL MONDAY
By Kerry Dexter
Kim and Reggie Harris have been married for more than three decades, so they know a thing or two about love and sustaining a committed relationship.
From their home base in New York state, Kim and Reggie Harris have taken their words and thoughts and commitment to social justice across the country and across the world, from the Smithsonian in Washington D. C. to the Psalm Festival in Austria. When they traveled to Toronto, Canada to work with their longtime friend Keith Whiteley on producing their album Resurrection Day, their thoughts were on what centers those travels for them. Recent journeys through change, hardship, faith, and love resonate through their work as much as does the couple’s commitment to telling stories of life and history through the perspective of their African-American heritage.
All this weaves in to the music on their latest album, Resurrection Day.
What also weaves in is Reggie’s more than a decade of struggle – and at times it seemed it was going to be a losing battle – with a life threatening illness. Then, when things seemed almost lost, a family donated a healthy liver and a match was made, and a transplant happened. Just as Reggie was on the mend from that, Hurricane Irene came to their area of New York State, damaging their town and destroying access to their property. Yet another challenge for them to face – and face all these things they did, as the songs they have chosen and written for Resurrection Day, and the exuberance and joy with which they offer them, suggest.
There is the title track, a song by Reggie that is both powerful and gentle, a reminder that there is always another time, another chance – whatever form those things may take. Tree of Life, written by Matthew Jones, is a reminder too, calling to mind that faith and paths to belief and connection often wind down different ways. In this month when we think of Valentines, Reggie’s song Here and Now with You is a love song dedicated to Kim and her commitment across the years and challenges, while It’s All About Love is an affirmation of the place and presence of love through all life’s searches and twists and turns. Never Go Back, by Rachel Bissex, speaks of the gifts and losses of turning points in life, and Do What I Have to Do, by 1960′s folk troubadour Phil Ochs, is a powerful take on commitment and its challenges.
There’s more, all of it offered with Kim and Reggie’s trading of lead and harmony, touches of gospel and spiritual sound, and the occasional dash of zydeco and the rhythms of Latin America. Harris and Harris are well supported by producer Ken Whiteley on many stringed instruments and on backing vocals, while Ken’s son Ben handles the bass rhythm section. Cheryl Prashker on percussion and John Plantania on guitar are among the other musical friends who sit in.
Chances are, Kim and Reggie Harris will have you tapping your feet and singing along with them before the album is done, and reflecting on the ideas in their songs long after.
In celebration of Black History month, you might want to take a look at their two Underground Railroad albums:
Note: It is the policy of A Traveler’s Library to reveal affiliate relationships. Album cover images here are links to Amazon, where you can listen to partial music tracks and shop for albums. If you click on the cover picture and make a purchase at Amazon, it will benefit Music Road, for which we thank you.
Original article: Black History Month and Valentine’s Day Thoughts
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