Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce aren’t the only artists out there trying to make a political statement about Blackness, brutality and bias. Enter Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, a St. Louis scholar, filmmaker and pastor who is seriously putting the “M” back in movement music.
Invoking his experiences on the ground and a love for his people, Rev. Sekou & the Holy Ghost have released their new album, “The Revolution Has Come.” With the help of more than 30 musicians, engineers, and vocalists, this 9-track project by FarFetched records is a political and musical fusion of gutbucket blues, gospel, soul, and funk. The album is organized into three sections, Resistance, Remembrance, and Revolution, all inspired by and dedicated to the people of Ferguson, Missouri, a city that the pastor spent so much of him time in after Mike Brown was shot and killed.
And while the album is meant to inspire, Sekou admits that it came from of a place of being utterly exhausted with despair.
After the one-year anniversary of Brown’s death and doing prior advocacy in Baltimore, Cleveland and Oakland, Sekou told The St. Louis American that he was “stressed out, not thinking right,” so he flew to the San Francisco Bay area to see a friend. “After a year in streets, I had the blues, so I needed to sing,” he said.
These past experiences on the streets are front and center in these songs. He reflects on sitting in a jail cell with other protesters, flushing tear gas out of his friends’ eyes, mourning over the lives of murdered transgender folks (especially those of color) and the cries of mothers who have lost their children to white supremacy. The album is multifaceted, soul-shaking and emotional–the antithesis of what most mainstream music is being peddled on our airwaves.
While many know Sekou through his fierce activism, most people don’t know that he’s been singing for most of his life. Not only does he come from a musically inclined family—his grandfather Richard Braselman played blues in the Arkansas Delta with B.B. King, Albert King and Louis Jordan—but he also received a vocal performance scholarship to Knoxville College in the early 90s.
“I thought I was going to be a professional singer,” Sekou told The American. “Broadway shows, opera, that’s what I thought I would be doing.”
In our youth-obsessed society, the 45-year old singer did wonder if he was too old to start a singing career, but he saw that perhaps this was his destiny. “Doors keep opening. It became a labor of love for a community that believes in music and in this work. I received so much grace,” he said.
It’s us who are graced by “The Revolution Has Come.”