The song "Go Down Moses" is an old gospel hymn.It tells the story of the liberation of the ancient Jewish people from Egyptian slavery, a story recounted in the Old Testament. For enslaved African Americans, the song was very powerful because they could relate to the experiences of Moses and the Israelites who were enslaved by the pharaoh, and it holds the hopeful message that God will help those who are persecuted.
On July 10, 2022, I went to see Archie Shepp, Jason Moran and Marian Rampal at Northsea Jazz perform aset entitled 'Let my people go". Archie Shepp is best known for being one of the founders of the free jazz movement. He's now old and frail; walks with a cane; performs seated; but he came dressed in his finest for Northsea Jazz, and he can still play the saxophone and sing with style and grace. At the end of the concert, he performed the song "Go Down Moses". I could hear, in his voice, a hint of the exhaustion that comes from decades of struggling against racism and injustice. I was moved to tears by his performance, as were many others in the audience.
This is the value of live music that is just impossible to put into words - - the power to really move people. You can't see that in a gig poster or a YouTube video, you just have to be there.
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