Photo by: Ginny Suss

Resistance Revival Chorus Tool Kit

Introduction to the Resistance Revival Chorus:

The Resistance Revival Chorus (RRC) is a collective of more than 60 women, and non-binary singers, who join together to breathe joy and song into the resistance, and to uplift and center women’s voices.

The Resistance Revival Chorus is meant to be recreated all across the country and world, and this toolkit will help you organize your own chorus.

Music and protest songs have always been a hallmark of the great civil rights movements. We honor this tradition by uplifting these songs and creating new ones for the new resistance.

We call for a resistance revival, a revival of our spirits, of our commitment to the movement, of our joy and of our power. We aim to bring together, in community, a group of diverse artists to join in songs of resistance and protest with the foundation that “JOY is an act of resistance!” (a quote from poet Toi Derricotte) Our movement must be fueled by equal parts protest and culture.

Chorus members for the NYC Chapter range from touring musicians, film and television actors, Broadway performers, solo recording artists, gospel singers, political activists, educators, filmmakers, artists, and more, representing a multitude of identities, professions, creative backgrounds, and activist causes. The RRC centers women in music, and addresses how historically marginalized women have been in the music industry.

We encourage racial and cultural diversity in every Chorus. To be a part of this movement, means standing up for the rights of people who look and can be different for you, and we unite together to amplify our voices, and consequently our songs.

The Resistance Revival Chorus is fully aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles.

You can visit resistancerevivalchorus.com for more information.

The History of Music in Protest and Resistance:

Music has always been at the core of resistance from indigenous peoples to enslaved Africans singing messages to each other in the fields. Enslaved Africans sang follow the “Drinking Gourd” to escape southern slavery and head to the north. In the labor movement, the movement that gave us our work week, workers sang “Solidarity Forever” to state that the union makes them strong. During the era of Jim Crow, Black folks sang songs like “We Shall Not Be Moved” during direct actions as a sign of resilience. Of course, there is some music that is born out of resistance. One of the most popular forms of music came from struggle, from dreams of revolution, that music is known today as Hip-Hop. When the Bronx was burning and people were fed government cheese to survive, hip-hop was a legendary art form that came from resistance.

That is why we founded the Resistance Revival Chorus, music has always been the center, the core and the joy of protest and resistance.

Photo by: Ginny Suss

Tips for putting on a Resistance Revival:

Musical Coordinator/Director

We would recommend that one person be appointed to lead the group in song. This person should have exceptional musical abilities, they must understand arranging songs, delegating harmony and melody parts and have an ear for chorale singing. This person should also run rehearsals before performances and make sure the songs sound beautiful.

Political/Organizing Rapid Response Coordinator:

Have someone in your chorus who knows local organizers and has their ear to the ground for what events, political actions and protests the chorus can perform at. From City Council meetings, to marches, rallies, and singing on the steps of court houses or Senators’ offices — nothing is too big or too small! We encourage your Resistance Revival Chorus to get out in the streets and remain active!

Manager:

One person ideally with relevant music industry experience should help with the strategic and business operations of the chorus. They will also be responsible for sharing possible events and performances while also creating such opportunities as well.

Social Media Manager:

This person is responsible for furthering your work and voices on various social channels that increase your audience and influence. Please visit on Facebook, at @resistancerevivalchorus on Instagram, or @resistancerev on Twitter as a reference.

Monthly Check-Ins:

If possible, we would recommend group meetings, beyond the rehearsals. In this way, the chorus members will get to learn more about each other and they can also air any concerns or issues, which can collectively be heard and discussed. It is important to keep evolving and listening to each other.

Voting:

We aim to be as democratic as possible, having members weigh in on whether certain opportunities should be pursued or not. We use Doodle to make easy and clear polls.

Sample Songs:

THE RICH MAN’S HOUSE

Traditional Labor Movement Song by Anne Feeney — some lyrics changed by Women’s March

Woke Up this Morning

Revamp of an old gospel song, created by Reverend Robert Wesby of Aurora, Ill., while he was locked up in Mississippi’s Hinds County jail during the Freedom Rides in 1961; Re-worked by the Freedom Singers (members of Sweet Honey in the Rock)

You can visit Resistance Revival Chorus on Spotify to listen to the NYC Chapter’s debut album THIS JOY, which includes more traditional protest music and original songs written by chorus members.

FAQ’s:

Are there only women in the chorus?

No. The chorus is comprised of women — cis and trans — and gender non-conforming people

Is there a particular average age for the chorus?

Age is no bar for the chorus. Whoever is passionate, dedicated and engaged, and has the stamina for some real fun, physical performances, is welcome.

Do we need to rehearse?

We would recommend rehearsals prior to every public performance. Not only is it about memorizing the words, but also connecting with the other singers prior to the event and asking any music-related questions in advance. We would recommend 2–3 rehearsals prior to a show.

Do we all have to wear white?

When performing or being seen publicly, we would recommend that the chorus wear all white as a symbol of solidarity in line with the history of the resistance. White is a symbol for unity and peace. And when we resist we do so peacefully, through non-violence, and in unison.

Can we sing other songs?

Yes, you can choose what songs you would like to sing. We would recommend that the songs are in line with what the resistance stands for. Feel free to email the national Resistance Revival Chorus Team if you have songs that you would like to recommend to us.

Where should we perform the songs?

Be creative. The chorus should be singing at flash mobs, protests, rallies, marches, outside your local representatives’ offices, online! Your creativity is what the Resistance Revival is all about!

Should I register my chorus with the Resistance Revival Chorus?

Yes! Once you start a chorus please make a public-facing Facebook, Instagram or other social media platform page. The name of your page should be the city where you are starting the chorus along with “Resistance Revival Chorus”, ie: Los Angeles Resistance Revival Chorus. Once you have your handle/platform make sure to let us know by following the NYC (National) Chapter and message us! Knowing that you have a chorus will allow us to be aligned and participate in national actions together. We will send information on actions that would be good for chorus participation as well as new songs we are loving.

Do we need a record label?

No, but if you do we would advise that your record label has a similar philosophy and vision as the RRC guiding principals outlined above. The NYC Chapter is signed to Righteous Babe.

And if I have other questions that haven’t been answered here?

Email us! We would love to hear from you: resistancerevivalchorus [at] gmail [dot] com.

“When the movement is strong, the music is strong.” ~ Harry Belafonte

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