On Sunday, June 28th, over 50 artists and tens of thousands of fans came together for Justice Comes Alive, a one-day, virtual festival harnessing the power of music to bring about collective change in response to racial inequality. The donation-based streaming event generated $55,000 and counting in funds for the participating artists, who remain out of work as the pandemic continues, as well as a number of social justice-oriented causes via PLUS1 For Black Lives Fund.
The 12-hour live-stream marathon featured new contributions by an array of amazing artists from around the world including powerhouse vocalist Kim Dawson (Pimps of Joytime, Matador! Soul Sounds), who showcased an original song and took on a chill-inducing protest song by the late, great Nina Simone.
First, Dawson led a band comprised of Peter Stoltzman (piano), Braxton “BK” Kahn (drums), Paul McDaniel (bass), and backing vocalists Kelsey Shiba and Adriene Bible in a a rendition of “Try”, a smooth yet somber reflection on self-doubt written by Dawson and Stoltzman.
After the camera faded out on “Try”, Dawson reappeared on camera, arms akimbo, with a look of disdain on her face. “We’re gonna do a little tribute to miss Nina Simone,” the singer explained as Kahn, Stoltzman, and McDaniel kicked into a slow, weary march. “I feel like this song really speaks to the experience of the Black American woman. Very fitting in these times.”
With that, Dawson eased into Simone’s “Four Women”, a sobering look at the harsh realities of four Black women from different walks of life, all of whom were dealt an unfathomable set of circumstances due to the racial oppression inherent in American society. Each vignette comes to a climax as the singer speaks their names, from Aunt Sarah to Saffronia to Sweet Thing to Peaches. In a time when “Say Their Names” is a rallying cry for racial justice protestors around the country and the world, each woman’s name gives you chills as you hear it. While the song is more than 50 years old, this timely performance reminds us that the fight for equality must continue.
Relive the Kim Dawson performance from Justice Comes Alive below. If you enjoyed the Justice Comes Alive performances and have the means, consider making a donation to Plus1 For Black Lives Fund via www.JusticeComesAlive.com.
Kim Dawson – “Try”, “Four Women” (Nina Simone) – Justice Comes Alive
Presented by Live For Live Music in partnership with PLUS1 and Nugs.TV, Justice Comes Alive was conceived as a way to harness the power of music to bring about collective change in response to racial inequality. All funds raised from Justice Comes Alive will be split evenly between the artists on the bill and the PLUS1 For Black Lives Fund, which was developed to address and continue the fight against anti-Black racism and violence in the U.S.
Directly supporting organizations like Equal Justice Initiative, Impact Justice, and The Bail Project, the PLUS1 For Black Lives Fund focuses on empowering Black communities, movement building, keeping people out of the criminal justice system while dismantling it more broadly, and a collective, international narrative change toward the equitable treatment of Black people. 30% of the PLUS1 for Black Lives Fund is also committed to small grants for Black and Indigenous-led grassroots efforts combating racism. For more information on Justice Comes Alive, head here.