It’s been six years since composer Joel Thompson sat down to write music about the deaths of Black men who’d been killed by police. The resulting piece for chorus and orchestra is called Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, a biblical reference to the last words uttered by Jesus.
In this special crossover episode with the Nashville Public Radio podcast Classically Speaking, producer Colleen Phelps talks to Joel and Nashville-based opera singer Patrick Dailey, both Black men, as they explore the question: How can music be used to process tragedy, embody it and lead to change?
“I could not stop shaking throughout the performance,” Patrick says. “To this day, it haunts me … because it actually informs the work that we do in this community.”
Movers & Thinkers is a production of Nashville Public Radio. This episode was hosted and produced by Emily Siner, in conjunction with Colleen Phelps, edited by Chas Sisk and Anita Bugg, and mastered by Carl Pederson. Find more in-depth interviews with fascinating Nashvillians at wpln.org/movers.