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WATCH: Activist performs moving gospel hymn for the people of Flint

Feb 18, 2016

This past Monday, Elyse Blennerhassett, an independent audio producer and journalist based in Chicago, captured Avery R. Young’s second performance of Lead in da Watah at the Soho House in Chicago.

Watch it here:

Lead in da Watah (lyrics below) was written by Young as a direct response to the water crisis in Flint. In a conversation with Blennerhassett, Young described how he was inspired to write a hymn for Flint.

"It was heavy on my heart and on my spirit that night."

"It's just heavy. To me, the entire situation is very heavy," said Young. "And I think that because it is not somebody shooting somebody that is unarmed that doesn't mean it doesn't have the same legitimization to it. It's still completely devastating. It was heavy on my heart and on my spirit that night." 

Young is a teaching artist, youth educator, and musician based in Chicago. The video above is Young's second performance of the hymn. Blennerhassett posted the video to her Vimeo account earlier this week.

Young first spontaneously wrote and performed the hymn on January 30 in an impromptu performance at the California Clipper, a Chicago cocktail bar and music venue. 

He describes the song as a "re-visited Negro spiritual" on Blennerhassett's Vimeo website.

Lead in da Watah

lead in de wattah
lead in de wattah | chirrun
lead in de wattah
ol(d) charlie playin God wif wattah

yes | dey knew it
yes dey knew what it do to chirrun
yes dey knew it …
ol(d) charlie playin God wif wattah

but dey did nothin
& dey did nohtin | chirrun
but dey did nothin
charlie playin God wif playin

now him say him gonna fix it
him say him gonna fix it | chirrun
but i dont believe him
charlie like playin God wif wattah

charlie like playin God
wif wattah …

charlie like playing God