Friends — a dispatch from Music City
Hello from Music City.
I have never lived in Nashville, but a piece of my heart rests here.
This Wednesday, February 13th, I will be performing my civil-rights inspired piece “Step by Step:The Ruby Bridges Suite” at City Winery with an amazing group of musicians—Brian Blade, Rahsaan Barber, Cremaine Booker, Lindsay Miller, Vicente Archer, Connye Florance, the TSU Choir, and the choral group Portara Ensemble led by Jason Shelton. The event is called "Darrell Grant & Friends.”
I can’t help but think, however, about one dear friend who will not be there.
One year ago today, I was also in Nashville, but for a very different reason. I had come to attend a celebration of life for vocalist, songwriter, producer, writer, and actress Lari White, who passed away a few weeks earlier following a battle with peritoneal cancer. Lari was a musical collaborator, a kindred spirit, and inspiration since we first met at the University of Miami more than 30 years ago. She remains one of the most genuine, talented, and soulful people I have ever known. That her voice was silenced so soon was a shock and a loss.
Lari sang the first time I performed “Step by Step” in Nashville, back in 2014, which seems appropriate given the piece’s goals of healing divisions and bringing folks together. Race, musical styles, and differences of all kinds seemed to fade in the face of Lari’s artistry and genuine love for people.
So as I make music with these wonderful artists this Wednesday night, I will be feeling the spirit of my oldest Nashville friend, who gave so much of herself to this town, and so much beautiful music to the world in her all-too-brief time, and whose voice still sings in my heart.