Composer Troy Anthony hosts Juneteenth revival event in NYC

For generations, Black communities in the United States have used music as an outlet, therapy, and avenue to transcend barriers to access

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Juneteenth is an opportunity for Black America to undergo a revival and that is why artist Troy Anthony is hosting a gospel concert focused on bringing spiritual healing through music into this year’s holiday celebration.

The Louisville native grew up in the South celebrating the holiday that many Americans are just starting to adopt. But after a year of intense emotion and after processing the deaths of Black lives at the hands of police officers, Anthony sought to create anthems for others seeking to work through their resulting trauma. 

Troy Anthony in rehearsal for The Revival: It Is Our Duty at The Shed for Juneteenth. (Photo credit: Mari Uchida)

“Very strong revivals have been done in Black communities forever, for the purpose of: wait, you need to check in, let’s come back to ourselves to remember why we’re here as we’re dedicated to. Let’s ask yourself those questions. Let’s give our lives back over,” Anthony explained.

Anthony composed 13 songs that will be performed on Juneteenth at The Shed in New York City, which is a cultural center in Hudson Yards that has a goal to “build a shared understanding of our rapidly changing world and a more equitable society.”

Each song in Anthony’s performance was written with a purpose to facilitate a collective that “speak[s] spells into the air, for us to understand in the moment.” 

For generations, Black communities in the United States have used music as an outlet, therapy, and avenue to transcend barriers to access. It’s fitting that Anthony has selected music as his art form to celebrate this Juneteenth, but to also acknowledge the pain the community has experienced over the past year.

One song in particular, titled Say Her Name, is based on Breonna Taylor’s death which occurred a few minutes from Anthony’s house. 

“I want to breathe freely, I want to run, I want to be able to do these things, and I want my body to be considered holy,” Anthony chanted as he reflected on the song’s lyrics. 

From the cries for police reform and COVID-19 deaths to the fight to preserve voting rights, the Black Community is embattled on multiple fronts right now. 

Anthony’s song selections take aim at these pressures on the Black community and places a focus on music as a source of liberation. 

“I cannot get rid of the fact that Breonna Taylor was murdered at the hands of state police officers. And there’s nothing that I can do to eradicate that. That pain really exists,” Anthony explained.

“So what I’m going to do is acknowledge it and I’m going to try to show you how I move through it. And then I’m going to ask you to engage in ritual that may help you process if you have not already.”

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