When Buffy Sainte-Marie performed on our fourth and final episode of Whiskey Sour Happy Hour, her song choice was a mite unexpected. Amid a lush corner of the Hawai’i jungle outside her home, Sainte-Marie sang her slightly-enhanced rendition of “America the Beautiful.” Given she had been isolating by herself at the time, the legendary activist, singer/songwriter, and folk icon gently sings solo to a backing track.
As we go into the Fourth of July weekend, BGS offers this song as an alternative to a traditional celebration of this country’s independence. Unless we as a culture — and more specifically, as members of the greater roots music community — immediately center the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in this country, injustices will continue. Injustices that disproportionately impact those members of our society who have been purposefully marginalized by it, since the moment of its inception. Injustices like those detailed in Sainte-Marie’s lyrics to this ageless, patriotic verse.
We aren’t going to wish you a “happy” Fourth of July this year, but we hope you will take this holiday to reflect on the ongoing genocide this country inflicts upon peoples it claims to allow life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thank you, Buffy Sainte-Marie, for sharing this gorgeousness with all of us.
Photo credit: Matt Barnes