It’s been a long summer, but they always are in South Carolina. As usual, it was an excruciatingly hot summer too. But, this was a special one. Our voices got louder. We came together, and people listened. We found new allies, new friends, new partners, new colleagues. We mourned, protested, celebrated. We also worked, fell in love, struggled, partied, studied, wrote, talked, cried, and sang. A lot happened. I know that music carried me through my summer in a big way, so we here at Auntie Bellum asked a few ladies around town who inspire us to talk about the music they leaned on, specifically the songs that kept them going or just the ones they really liked. Here’s what they told us – and it’s really good.
“The song of my summer was definitely ‘Feeling Myself’ by the queens Nicki and Beyoncé, because it’s dancey and powerful and I can’t help but have fun when I listen to it.”
Errin Fatimah is 21 years old, born and (mostly) bred here in Columbia and in school for Elementary Education. She has a teenaged brother, is the daughter of a single mother, and will be a 3rd generation educator. She’s passionate about yoga, reading, writing (the arts in general, really), and she embroiders and plays the bass
“The first idea that came to me is Nina Simone, “Mississippi Goddam.” It’s my favorite Nina Simone protest song and she composed it in less than an hour. It’s of-the-moment, raw emotional, organic qualities reminds me of how the Confederate flag was removed from the State House grounds this summer: Mari Borghini responded to the murders in Charleston with a Take the Flag Down SC Facebook page and within 12 hours she had 5,000 followers and within 36 hours, 10,000. Normally SC could be categorized as fitting into the problem she sings about (;too slow’), but the stars aligned and the political will was influenced by the grassroots unrest. This summer was the most amazing summer to be in Columbia.”
Eme Crawford dreams of learning one Nina Simone song on the piano, but lacks musical discipline. While not practicing piano, Eme brings people together in support of responsible reproductive health policy in SC as Tell Them‘s Director of Advocacy.
“I really, really love music. Some songs are empty and just make me dance. Some songs are full and make me think. But there are only a few, like “Cold War” by Janelle Monae, that were written to the very melody of every ache, pain, triump, and dream that I have ever had in my life. The song is about always, ALWAYS remaining true to your absolute core self no matter how it differs from the status quo. In Janelle Monae’s case that has meant remaining strong and true to herself as an eccentric, creative, African American woman, even if that meant being in opposition to the main stream music industry. For me, every single replay of “Cold War” fans a growing fire within me; a fire for activism, for equal rights, for justice and for freedom. It is very difficult to put words to the impact that this song has on me every single time I listen to it. Just trust me. Find the official video on youtube. Listen. Watch. Your soul will cry out for freedom. Your heart will be moved to fight for it.”
Mila Burgess-Conway: Mila. 30. Counselor. Activist. Big sister. Lover of giraffes. Married. Mostly cheerful.
“I’m gonna have to go with ‘If I Had a Girl’ by Nerina Pallot. I read so many stories and had so many discussions about people being oppressed or unfairly judged, and it was overwhelming and frustrating and heartbreaking. I definitely blasted this song to feel even a little bit more empowered to take on the world. And to remind myself to encourage other people to be empowered too.”
Brindolyn McNair is managing editor of Cola Daily. Pirate history, Samuel L. Jackson movies, and terrible horror movies bring joy to my life. I have an Olivia Pope-esque affinity for red wine and terrible men.
“’Is There A Ghost’ by Band of Horses off ‘Cease to Begin’. It’s about realizing there’s something lurking that you need to deal with, while simultaneously knowing you could ignore it. That’s the city this summer: aware there’s a ghost in the house. Luckily, we’ve chosen to wake up and deal with it.
Elizabeth Broadbent graduated from USC with an MFA and now stays home with her three boys while working as a freelance writer. In her blog, manicpixiedreammama.com, she writes about “parenting and social justice with a side of snark.”
“’Southern Rain’ by Cowboy Junkies. When I recently decided to eliminate dusty broken cd’s from my life the first “must have” replacement album I downloaded was Cowboy Junkies’ ‘Black Eyed Man’. Its bluesy song, ‘Southern Rain’, was my go-to, Sunday morning favorite this summer. Into every life a little rain must fall and this song keeps me thankful that ours is a South Carolina rain.”
“I play ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone quite a bit, and I love the Thievery Corps remix of it as a lift me up as a result of my son’s mental illness and closing my yoga studio to spend more time at home because of his sickness . . . but I also have the joy of creating my bath and body business and making soaps . . . This is my new normal now…dealing with my son illness and making soaps and talking on the radio . . . so at the end of the day it reminds me that no matter how heavy things can get there is always something beautiful in life to remind you that its not as bad as you may think….because thankfully there is always a new day and this is my new life smile emoticon and when it’s all said and done I am feeling good . . . most days anyway . . .”
Tzima Brown is the host of Evolve with Tzima, a Columbia radio talk show on The POINT 95.9. She is also a loving mother, and the creator and owner of Sunrise Bath & Body, Artisan Soaps and Body Products.
“I have several life songs including ‘Taking Care of Business’ by BTO, Dire Straits’ ‘Walk of Life,’ and ‘Walk On’ by U2. My kids always give me grief because I want ‘Walk of Life’ played at my funeral. I can just imagine my friends and family leaving the bar all boogeying to Knopfler’s badass guitar licks — di di dit dit doo — and being happy – dancing in the street, as it were. They say it makes the song sad for them now. But the point is that this is what we are here for — to do the walk of life. And this summer, for me, has been crazy busy with growth (Bonnie and Chad got married, I’m starting a new non-profit, Bob and I are looking toward the next stages of our lives as a couple and a family, etc.), and some very real healing that has to do with actually walking. I broke my foot in the spring in Marrakech which probably prematurely set off a condition with my spine that compromises my ability to walk. Walking has been difficult and painful for me for the first time in my life, so I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating and over-analyzing what this means. And, of course, it’s a metaphor for pushing through change and growth and obstacles. Getting the work of your life done. So this summer, more than ever, the Dire Straits boys have been there for me. They even know that I keep crazy hours and get my most important work done at 3 am. Here are the lines that always bring it home: ‘Dedication, devotion Turning all the night time into the day And after all the violence and double talk There’s just a song in all the trouble and the strife You do the walk, yeah, you do the walk of life You do the walk of life’”
Cindi Boiter is the editor-in-chief of Jasper Magazine and the author and editor of several books and anthologies. She is the executive director of The Jasper Project and the recipient of the 2014 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts.
“A few years ago, I rediscovered The Beach Boys and how wonderful they are. I’d lip-synced to ‘Barbara Ann’ and ‘Surfin USA’ as a kid at summer camp, so I always wrote The Beach Boys off as silly surf music. Getting older and hearing ‘Pet Sounds’ for the first time changed all that, and while I know now the music goes a lot deeper than beach tunes, it’s still a summer go-to for me. I also got to see the Brian Wilson biopic ‘Love and Mercy’ this past summer, which had me listening to ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Smile’ that much more. If forced to choose, I’d go with ‘Sloop John B.’”
Kayla Cahill is a middle school theatre teacher in Richland One and Ensemble Member at Trustus Theatre.
“I’d go with this one. It was used in the True Detective Season 2 promo trailer. I assumed it’d be used for the opening credits of the show and was disappointed when they went with a Leonard Cohen song. That’s saying a lot.”
“’Youth’ by Daughter was a really integral song for me this summer. It was introduced to me by my friend Alexis Stratton while we were working on my master’s thesis. The project was very much about finally letting go of old ghosts, and something about the haunting quality of the song really resonated with what I was experiencing. Even after the project was finished, I would listen to this song on repeat for days, usually when I was feeling in a particularly dark place. And then one day, near the end of the summer, the song sounded different, it didn’t make me sad but rather it made me smile. I can listen to this song and remember making a really amazing project with my friends and getting through a tough emotional space. And in some ways, it’s like hearing the song for the first time.”
O.K. Keyes holds an M.A. in Media Arts with a focus in cinematography from the University of South Carolina. They have served as the director of photography for a variety of short and feature-length films, many of which focus on queer identity. Credits include Reenactress (2014), American Kensho (2013), and Phantomythography: A Young Ghost Comes of Age, which was featured in the 2015 Indie Grits Film Festival. Since October 2014, Keyes has served as the Media Coordinator for SC Equality.
“The song I was thinking if us ‘Southern Gul’ by Erykah Badu. It’s on the ‘New Amerykah, Pt. 2’ album. She makes a reference to the South being ‘the home of the burning church.’ Of course due to the context I’m non 100% certain she’s making a historical reference, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she is. I love this song because it kind of conveys both the South’s strangeness and the nostalgia us southern girls continue to have for our region despite is many MANY problems.”
Candace Cunningham is working on her history Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina where she won the Robert H. Weinfeld Essay Prize (2011) and is a Fellow in the African American Professors Program (2011-present). Her dissertation focuses on South Carolina’s Long Civil Rights Movement, and she has presented her research at multiple historical conferences.
“I am a huge fan of music and listen to records daily. My favorite song that always sets up my summer mood is ‘Sugar Magnolia’ by The Grateful Dead.”
Mindy Rawlinson is an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of South Carolina