Matt is a musician, author, editor, and creative director. At the Metropolitan Opera, where he is Creative Director, and in his previous life as a magazine journalist, Matt has interviewed and profiled such cultural forces as Cate Blanchett, Patrice Chéreau, Plácido Domingo, Ahmet Ertegun, William Kentridge, Madonna, Anthony Minghella, Julianne Moore, Jerry Wexler, and many others. He is the author of I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You: Aretha Franklin, Respect, and the Making of a Soul Music Masterpiece (St. Martin’s Press) about Aretha’s rise to prominence during the Civil Rights Movement. Matt was galvanized to create Six Songs of Protest in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election. “Like everyone else, I was shocked and depressed by the results. But reading an article by Gloria Steinem made me realize that I couldn’t sit around and mope. The people needed to organize and respond – and my personal form of resistance took the shape of these new songs.”
Inspired by Gloria Steinem’s concept of community organizing to effect change. Written just after the election. The sample at the top of the song is Shirley Chisholm (first black woman congresswoman, elected to that post in 1968) announcing her candidacy for presidency in 1972.
THEY WARNED US
“They” in the title refers to Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, and Stevie Wonder, all of whom railed against similar political issues decades ago. Nothing has really changed—in other words, “they warned us.”
The Ramble, for those who don’t know, is a part of Central Park where gays legendarily cruised for sex in the 1970s and 80s.
Earthquakes and Hurricanes
This song refers to mudslides, wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes – all the natural disasters we seem to read about all the time.
Paid Administrative Leave
A musical indictment of the rampant police killings of unarmed black men and women. Features samples of Sandra Bland being arrested and of the young daughter of Diamond Reynolds who was in the car as Philando Castile was shot and killed by a Minnesota officer (who was acquitted of all charges).
Power and the Glory
The one cover. The song was originally written and recorded by Phil Ochs, a 1960s contemporary/competitor of Bob Dylan. His words resonate even more than 50 years after the original song was released.