Part documentary, part recording session, and part oral history, in one enchanting and completely perfect hour, songwriter, producer and now director Mustapha Khan builds a song — a generational anthem really — from idea to realization. Along the way, a crew of singers and musicians and one very incredible tap dancer make their way into the studio, becoming collaborators and a bit of family in service of the artistry.
As Khan explains at the outset, the idea comes to him in something of a vision. He tells it beautifully but the fundamental idea is that he owes it to his ancestors and the legacy of all that they survived in chains, to use the liberty they won for him with their strength in service to the Black community now. “What have you done with your freedom?” is what he expects to be asked when he arrives at the gates of Heaven — and this question is the premise, title, and answer explored in the film and ultimately the song at its center.
By turns exuberant, somber, emotional and uplifting, the film Song For Our People is assertively inspirational, a call to action via a sobering look at the persistence of injustices, contextualizing its imperative within history that stretches back hundreds of years straight through to the BLM protests of 2020. It’s also a triumph of the eponymous song, with choreographed elements of swing, jazz, gospel, rap and spoken word, percussive dance, and an unforgettable hook.
A proper roster of all-star New York musicians, singers, poets and the dancer Omar Edwards come to the studio, and interspersed with takes and creative musical experiments, each one of them tells their own version of Khan’s story. The artists speak on personal, familial and societal forces, the inspiration and energy they feel they receive from their ancestors, the constant presence of history and the responsibility to use their gifts for good that drives them all forward.
Available on demand on all the platforms. For more information visit: songforourpeople.com.