Americans across the nation were frozen with shock and disbelief, watching the video of George Floyd’s death. Like many Americans, Darrell Kelley cried and simply could not believe what he saw over and over again. For Darrell, the pain was overwhelming.
Then, Darrell set that pain to music, something he had done in the past when faced with personal hardships. George Floyd’s death launched Darrell to re-purpose the gifts of music and songwriting he was given. He wanted to help. He wanted people to reach new levels of understanding through this tragedy to skip several beats into our emotional evolution as people. Like many times in the past, Darrell turned to music and songwriting to deal with his emotions. So, he set out with the idea of offering millions of others an outlet to unite, heal, and move forward together.
“There are a lot of people in America that truly love each other, but when we are divided by race and hate, we can’t move forward,” said Darrell. “Hate hangs in the air throughout the streets of America, and if we don’t address it together, it will always be there.”
Darrell explains that if people could just take a minute, close their eyes, take a deep breath, and stare into the darkness, they may see the light.
“When you look into the darkness, you cannot see color. Hearing a person’s voice, connecting with them, and showing mutual respect for one another’s journey in life can go a long way in helping heal this nation and move it forward,” said Darrell.
Darrell’s latest album, “The Audacity,” features songs of intense, soulful, and respectful remembrance of recent victims of senseless violence in America. The second track on the album, “Police Brutality,” was the song Darrell wrote through the tears of watching the video of George Floyd’s death. He followed up with tributes to Ahmaud Arbery, Rashard Brookes, and many others. As news would continue to break with similar stories and situations, causing more divide and social unrest, Darrell kept writing. The Audacity was completed after ten tracks had been recorded and today serves as an anthology in the fight for social justice.
Darrell supports the Black Lives Matters movement, and he features a music video on his website about the movement and the tragedies that inspired it. Darrell explained that, in his opinion, Black Lives Matters must evolve towards “Black Lives Matters and Our Lives Matter too!” He describes his theory that society cannot change the way things are currently regarding racism, police brutality, and injustice with just Black Lives Matter.
“We need to change things collectively. All races of people from all backgrounds,” said Darrell. “It doesn’t matter whether you are black, white, Asian, Spanish, or any other race or a mix of races. We need to change this together. It is the only way. When people start paying attention to the trials and tribulations, we face as human beings and start focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us, then we can start moving the needle forward instead of forcing the needle forward.”
Darrell says that before George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Derrick Scott, Rashard Brookes, Jacob Blake Jr, he wrote a song titled, “because of you.” The song came before all these tragedies and was inspired by a speech given by a student activist after the tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas Hight School in Parkland, FL. In the speech, the young man said, “…this is because of you, their blood is on your hands. What are you going to do? Wait for more to die?”
“I cannot recall one African American child killed in this tragedy; they were Caucasian, Latino, and Asian,” said Darrell. “It doesn’t matter what color you are or where you grew up, I care about people period!”
This message is also played out throughout the library of Darrell’s music as one of the most important themes. In the song “Unity” the lyric is written, “if I extend my hand will you extend yours?” This is the point of healing. Truly connecting with others to understand and find common ground, explains Darrell.
“I stand up for all injustice in the name of unity, respect and love for each other. I want people to know that it doesn’t matter who you are, or what the subject is, we are all people and we need to consciously practice a higher level of civility and respect to each other and within our communities,” Darrell added.
One of Darrell’s goals is offering a vessel of connectively to humanity through music.
“I want to put a stop to all the negativity and have the people of this nation join in the positive connections we all share. We are all human beings and that is where we need to step up and out of today’s racially charged climate moving forward.”
Darrell says the future of social justice in America is at a very critical and pivotal point that will take people from all sides, all races, all backgrounds, and all viewpoints to truly set ourselves down the right path and direction. Social and racial injustice in America cannot be taught or changed by one group.
“There are many people of all races in this country that truly love, respect, and honor one another,” said Darrell. “If we continue to separate ourselves by race and hate, then we will remain divided and the vicious circle continues.”
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