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Praise Song for Tulsa

The World Premiere of 21V's First Commission

Recorded in November 2021 at Redwood Grove Amphitheater in Berkeley, California

  • Christina Springer, poet

  • Charlie Griffin, composer

  • Christine Abraham and Kate Offer, soloists

  • Mark Wilson, speaker

We commemorated in 2021 the centennial of the silenced events of the Tulsa Race Massacre, where White mobs ransacked and destroyed homes and businesses, wiping out one of the most affluent Black communities in the United States. Composer Charles Griffin collaborated closely with poet and Orisha priest Christina Springer in creating Praise Song for Tulsa, commissioned by 21V for its inaugural season. Says Christina Springer: "This is a sonic disruption of America's constant requirement for Black trauma. Set in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma the morning of May 31, 1921, the characters in the poem give thanks for their beautiful lives. In this piece, we are celebrating both Black survival and Black thrival. Particular attention has been paid to the miracle of Black survival. It is a glimpse into what is, what was and what should never come again." We humbly introduce this depiction of the everyday glories of the morning hours before the onset of the massacre, intended as a healing contribution to the larger conversation about race relations in the U.S. and beyond.

Praise Song for Tulsa 

Glory, glory! Good glory!

Cool water, cool roads,

Cool house, cool soul.

Cool the ancestors in their immortality.

Good glory, Black and proud!

Blessings all around. Light and love.

Give light. Open a way!

Shine on, Jesus! Another soul rises.

Ancestors hold you, ancestors guide us.

This was the promise, the American Dream.

This is America, This is America!

I survived! Glory, Good Night!


Sun chased a chill out of the air.

I said, the everlasting sun chased a chill out the air.

Won't he do it!

Sun what make us Black and proud.

Praise girls skipping rope on Elgin Street,

sweet little girls with nimble feet.

Praise the mothers pushing buggies in the park,

daddies arm in arm strolling smart and dark.

Bookworm boys o'er by Booker T's school

won't grow up to be no one's fool!

That cool clean Jazz band playing Stratford Hotel

came to church last Sunday, don't you know?

There's a will and a way.

Now is our time, and now is our day.

No longer runaways!

Greenwood Ave has motor cars, laughing with ladies, edges laid.

Out parading last night like a Juneteenth parade.

Hardworking men, just look at Diamond Dick, collecting on shining.

Careful now man, don't you trip.

Easy now man, don't you trip.

Easy now, man. Cover him with the blood.

Lessie Randall?! Viola Fletcher?! Hughes Van Ellis?!

The justice America will come to see

is Negro, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek.

Your sweet Jesus best beware;

when justice comes it just won't care.

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