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Let it Matter

Cover image by Guy Denning
www.guydenning.org

An urgent call to deep listening across cultural and class divides
Commissioned by Amasong Women's Chorus / Jill Crandall
Poet/Lyricist: 
Elizabeth Alexander

Let It Matter is an urgent call to deep listening across cultural divides, crafted with grit, tenacity and passion. Its pithy, emotionally layered lyrics are punctuated with edgy internal rhymes and surprising juxtapositions, eshewing the comfortable and predictable at every turn. In its final, luminous measures, this song offer listeners a profound, open-ended challenge: "No one would ever call this easy listening. Listen anyway."

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https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/recording-let_it_matter_ssa.mp3 SSA, piano - Choral Score
5' M SEA-125-03 Sheet Music
$3.50
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/recording-let_it_matter_ssa.mp3 SSA, piano - Choral Score
5' M SEA-125-03D Licensed PDF
$2.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/recording-let_it_matter_satb.mp3 SATB, piano - Choral Score
5' M SEA-125-04 Sheet Music
$3.50
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/recording-let_it_matter_satb.mp3 SATB, piano - Choral Score
5' M SEA-125-04D Licensed PDF
$2.00

Let it Matter

Elizabeth Alexander

You’ve got your own story –
You and everybody else have got a bone story,
Sunrise certain and touchstone true.
A homegrown story that you’ve known
    ever since you could say the words for
    “us” and “them” and “you.”

But every story’s got a flip side –
Underneath the surface there’s a rip tide
Powerful and yet denied.
To know the story of a stranger:
    That can be a mighty re-arranger –
    Let it be a downright game changer.

Chorus:
Let that story in. Let it matter.
Let it open up the prison of your mind.
There’s so much pain and glory in everybody’s story –
Let it matter. Let it in.

Let it lead to honest conversation.    
Let it shape the things you say and do.             
Let it be the bridge that heals a nation.     
No matter what you’ve been through,
Your own point of view
Is just a little part of what is true.
Don’t be afraid to let that story in.

(Chorus)

It’s about the fears that lead to fences.
It’s about the dreams that fall apart.
It’s about what builds up our defenses.
You’ve got to open your heart
Your most tender part
You’ll find yourself alone until you start –
Until you start to let that story in.

This is the work of justice,
This is the work of trust,
This is the work that is asked of us today.
No one would ever call this “easy listening” –
    Listen anyway.  Listen anyway.  Listen anyway.

(Chorus)

No one would ever call this “easy listening.”

Composer's Note: 

LETTER TO MEMBERS OF IDAHO ALL-STATE HONOR MIXED CHOIR, 1/25/2018:

Hello my dear singers,

As I trust you already know in your minds and feel in your bones, singing is a hopeful and revolutionary act. This is especially true when the songs bend toward the unfamiliar and challenging, for that's when music’s grace helps us hear what words alone cannot express.

My song Let It Matter grew out of a very personal experience. I have always considered myself to be a well-informed and compassionate person. But until just a few years ago I had never truly understood how, as a college-educated white woman in the United States, my everyday experiences were so vastly different from people whose ethnicity or culture made them frequent targets of slights, harassment and violence. In fact, I experienced my own inner resistance to the notion that racism was deeply entrenched in law enforcement, the court system, hiring practices and housing. I didn't want to believe that racism still had such a stronghold in my country’s institutions. And yet, that was clearly the case.

At the same time, I saw that some impassioned reformers were condemning authority figures across the board, claiming that in some professions there were no thoughtful, fair or even-handed people. This conviction concerned me as well. I feared that this attitude would shut down the very conversations that might bring about understanding and change.

I came to realize that both views of the world were deeply rooted in people's authentic personal experiences, and that because of this they both held important pieces of the truth. The opening lyric of Let It Matter affirms this – that "every story has a flip side." It is easy to discount a story that does not resonate with your own life. It is an act of supreme courage to gently hold two seemingly contradictory stories in your hands at the same time, without discarding either of them as a falsehood.

Singers demonstrate this kind of courage whenever they engage with the music of people who are different from themselves. But many such acts of courage do not occur on a stage or elicit applause. Every week for the past seven years, a racially diverse group called Circle of Peace gathers at my church for dinner and conversation. The circle is comprised of neighborhood youth, parents, police officers, business owners and community members. The agenda of these meetings is simple: To tell and listen to each other’s stories, experiences and concerns, in order to create a safer, more compassionate, and more just world. As I composed Let It Matter, I was inspired by the friction, pain, dedication and hope that brings people to Circle of Peace week after week.

Personally, composing Let It Matter helped me to "open up the prison of my mind." But in order for this message to speak to others, it takes singers like yourselves who not only have beautiful voices – as I know you do – but also beautiful hearts – as I also know you do. I am beyond grateful to you for sharing my music and this message with others. May we all change the world for the better, working together, now and in everything we do.

Most sincerely,

Elizabeth

Reviews and Responses: 

"This is one of the most powerful pieces I have ever had the honor of performing, and I know many other Amasong members share the sentiment. Thank you so much." Jessica Nichols, Singer, Amasong

"Let It Matter greatly touched me in our current world. It seems ever more important every single day to listen to each others' stories...Thank you so much again for your beautiful music, sharing it with the world, your boundless energy and your palpable joy." Serra Vickery, Singer, VocalPoint

Performers: 

SSA:
* PREMIERE: Amasong Women's Chorus / Jill Crandall (Champaign, IL)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver / Patrick Scofield (Vancouver WA)
McPherson College Women's Choir / Becky Snell  (McPherson KS)
SATB:
* PREMIERE: VocalPoint / Jennifer Anderson (St. Paul, MN)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church / Joe Mish (Rochester, MN)
Idaho All-State Honor Mixed Choir / Sarah Graham (Moscow, ID)
Musaic Vocal Ensemble Frances Chiasson  (Kelowna, BC)
Pacific Northwest Unitarian Universalist Music Festival / Elizabeth Alexander (Shoreline, WA)
Singing Out, Toronto Michael Bennett  (Toronto, ON)

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