What better day to debut a brand new Frederick Playlist column than the final Thursday in July? The answer is there is no better day. Really. There isn’t. Behold Music & Mental Health, a feature we hope to bring you more often than not, written by the fabulous Imade Borha. She’ll check in from time to time with her thoughts on … well … presumably, music and mental health. Duh. If you dig, you can follow her on Twitter here. Enjoy!
I’m too scared to be sassy. I’m too fearful to be “Bool, Balm, & Bollective.” I love hip-hop’s bravado, and the cool, removed state of much of pop music, but the news has me either crying in the shower, crying myself to sleep, or thinking of the million and one ways I can be murdered. For individuals who feel targeted because of their identity, race, or occupation, self-care is especially needed.
Music has always been a way for me to unplug and get away from annoying people. If you can pry yourself away from the tragedy machine known as Twitter, and the “How do I know this person?” trivia game called Facebook, I encourage you to check out these two songs that help me get closer to some semblance of sanity.
Gregory Porter & Kem – “Holding On”
What I love the most about “Holding On” is that nothing about this song surprises me. Gregory Porter’s voice is the sonic equivalent of that little flashing light that lets you know your security system is on. Porter’s voice and message is rooted in something much deeper than today’s fleeting 24 hour news cycle. I also love that Kem sings “Holding On” as though Porter warned him to limit his “Hey Guurrle” ad libs to only three times, compared with the 984,748,937,494,748,478 Hey Guurrles that are in almost every Kem song. Despite his restraint, Kem still has the energetic demeanor of a group member plotting a solo departure. For people who want to focus on the music, the above video’s simple treatment allows you to do just that. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
CassiRaye – “We Rise” (at the 28:00 mark)
I first listened to CassiRaye at The Thing She played in front of an empty room that was absolutely maddening. I wanted to run out the door and yell, “Don’t you know how talented CassiRaye is!? What’s wrong with you?” That didn’t happen, but I did write a glowing review of CassiRaye’s intimate performance full of emotive lyrics that can stick with you long after the song ends. Her acoustic singer-songwriter approach takes the dirt and grime of life, and finds the diamonds of truth that can elevate us to our higher selves. “We Rise” is particularly powerful for me right now, as I’m trying to dodge the emotional landmines of auto-play videos and triggering news that I just cannot handle. Fear is not commonly explored in many songs, yet CassiRaye dives into this vulnerable emotion: “It’s scary/It’s so deep/These feelings/That I keep/Holding onto,” she sings. CassiRaye’s music, full of grit and longing, lets me know life is more than tragedy. “You can love, you can rise,” the singer asserts. Fly on.