the riverside of martin and arundhati


before the evening event kofi annan, president chirac, amy goodman and others had a day of u.n. summit activities.

in the evening, my girl piper did a few of her song-poems as the opening for the night, then the former president of ireland mary robinson spoke, then wangari maathai…then this woman celeste who had lost her son the previous year in baghdad (age 30) spoke right before me. she opened the crowd UP with her raw, honest, heartfelt and intelligent critique and momentous urging for action.

i opened by quoting martin luther king jr from his anti-war speech during the vietnam war – the greatest purveyor of violence in the world is my own government. and i laid the songs as an offering.

then i sang:

the songs i sang were –

1. michael

they called him hopeful
when they had no hope left
he was not hopeful, just free of doubt
they called him a son of god
searching so hard for god
and he flew far on rainy days for he figured them out

and they called him michael
he was her only blameless son
and you would have loved him
but he died so quickly
like a nameless child

they called him a soldier
and they plucked him from some ghetto
and shipped him off shamelessly
he was seventeen
took an innocent child
made a criminal mind
a soldier against his people
cause he was born hungry


they called him brilliant
called him a bad boy
soon he thought his earthly duty was to please them
they called him beautiful
and he was so beautiful
but he ran from those calling mouths
so scared he could free them
so scared he could be them


then i sang verse one of amazing grace:

amazing grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
i once was lost, but now am found
was blind but now i see

and i say

my lord what a morning x3
when the stars begin to fall

you’ll hear the trumpets sound
to wake the nations underground
looking to my god’s right hand
when the stars begin to fall

you’ll hear the babies cry
to wake the nations underground
looking to my god’s right hand
when the stars begin to fall

you’ll hear freedom ring
to wake the nations underground
looking to my god’s right hand
when the stars begin to fall

and the prison bars
and the rain, and the hurricane
and the babies, and the levees
and the people who won’t set us free
as they finally realize we must be free
we gonna be free
when the stars begin to fall

then a few more speeches and piper and i got up and did a song-prayer i came up with recently:

its not too late for us we know

which you just repeat and build and clap.

then more speeches and i was asked to come up and close after kwabena and muhibb from milwaukee…then i did if i had a hammer. (i’d hammer in the morning, in the evening, all over this land. i’d hammer out danger, i’d hammer out a warning, i’d hammer out love between my bros and sistas, all over this land. if i had a bell i’d ring it, but i have a song, so i’ll sing it. i’ll sing out justice, i’l lsing out freedom. and so on…)

i have to say it was a dream venue come true and many of my most beloveds were there to share in it. truly and amazing night, so amazing to sing again, to have a chance to attempt to fill a space like riverside up with sound. here are some lovely pics from the dinner after the performances:

the gorgeous jenn and the beautiful shane !


muhibb, super-poet from milwaukee, and malia, the organizer of the event’s talent (that’s dear dear adam in the background!):