VIDEO: “Still I Rise” by Derrick E. Gardner & The Big dig! Band

“Still I Rise” is dedicated to the great African-American poet, singer, actor, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. This powerful poem basically describes the plight and resilience of African-Americans, from the times of slavery through emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the civil rights era, and up to today. When Angelou died in 2014, this melody popped into my head—it was as if her spirit sang this melody to me and took me to the piano to write the tune.

Structurally, the tune moves around the cycle of fourths, and rather than ending on a reprise of the opening section, I added a reharmonized bridge. That’s my shout-out to the resilience that Angelou celebrated in all her work, and modeled in her life. Soloists: Derrick E. Gardner (trumpet), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Curtis Nowosad (drums)

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