With the planet in a CODE RED for irreversible warming — an African-American spiritual first documented during the 19th century abolitionist movement has been adapted by renowned singers and activists in Minnesota in the 21st century to raise awareness about global warming and the hundreds of Water Protectors arrested during the Line 3 pipeline battle in Minnesota.

“Down in the River to Pray”

FEATURING: BARBARA WITH, MARY JANE ALM, PRUDENCE JOHNSON, JEARLYN STEELE, MARIAN MOORE, WINONA LADUKE

A production of Honor the Earth | Directed by Keri Pickett

New Music Video Documentary is Part of Larger “Drop the Charges” Campaign for Hundreds of Water Protectors Arrested in Line 3 Pipeline Battle in Minnesota


ON EARTH DAY, RENOWNED SINGERS AND ACTIVISTS ADAPT 19TH CENTURY AFRICAN-AMERICAN SPIRITUAL TO 21ST CENTURY SOCIAL JUSTICE PLEA FOR A FOSSIL FUEL-FREE FUTURE WITH “DOWN IN THE RIVER TO PRAY”

On Earth Day, April 22, 2022 – with the planet in a CODE RED for irreversible warming — an African-American spiritual first documented during the 19th century abolitionist movement has been adapted by renowned singers and activists in Minnesota in the 21st century to raise awareness about global warming and the hundreds of Water Protectors arrested during the Line 3 pipeline battle in Minnesota.

Down in the River to Pray” adds original, new lyrics * to the plaintive melody of “The Good Old Way” first published in 1867. The music video highlights scenes from the prayerful resistance of late last year at the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota and the January 2022 recording session in Minneapolis.

Singers include several vocalists from the all-female Twin Cities band from the ‘80s and ‘90s, Women Who Cook, plus singer and activist Barbara With (who helped rewrite the lyrics) and LaDuke, Executive Director and co-founder of Honor the Earth. Like many of the Water Protectors charged with thousands of exaggerated misdemeanors and felonies for protests against Line 3, LaDuke, With, and Women Who Cook Co-founder and Producer, Marian Moore, face multiple charges for their resistance to an Enbridge corporation pipeline.

Line 3 carries tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through Anishinaabe Treaty Lands and some of Minnesota’s most pristine ecosystems and watersheds to a refinery in Superior, Wisconsin, where it will be shipped to foreign users. Tar sands oil is the dirtiest and most expensive oil on the planet, and impossible to clean up in watery landscapes as it sinks in water.

New Lyrics Originated in Jail Cell from Last Year’s Peaceful Gathering at the Shell River *

“This beautiful old song is reborn for an important new cause,” said With, a singer-songwriter who grew up in Minneapolis. “When Winona and the six of us were stuck in jail last summer after being arrested for ‘trespassing’ and other alleged crimes at the Shell River, we started singing it in our cell. We re-wrote the words. It’s a theme song for those who have been steadfastly working to make sure the waters of northern Minnesota aren’t destroyed by a tar sands oil pipeline. We sing it for the hundreds of other water protectors who were also arrested and are facing charges, some felonies. And we – ‘The Shell River Seven’ – sing it as part of the Drop The Charges campaign, targeting Minnesota’s elected officials.”

Moore, who faces multiple counts of her own, was excited about bringing her former bandmates together in the studio for the cause:

“My sisters in Women Who Cook like Jearlyn Steele, Prudence Johnson, and Mary Jane Alm have always been ready to stand up for a better world,” she added. “Now, 40 years after our founding – and 34 years after our extraordinary Soviet Peace Tour in 1988 – protecting our children and grandchildren’s future is ever more necessary.”

ENJOY OUR FILM

More About “Down in the River to Pray”

Lyrics by: The Shell River Seven and Marian Moore

Lead Vocalist: Barbara With

Vocalists: Mary Jane Alm, Prudence Johnson, Jearlyn Steele, Marian Moore, Winona LaDuke

Instrumentalists: Piano ~ Scottie Miller, Cello and Viola ~ Cierra Alise Hill, Hammond Bass ~ David Stone, Acoustic Guitar ~ Patrick Davis, Accordion ~ Rebecca Kemble

Recorded at: Wild Sound Studio in Minneapolis and Winterland Studio in New Hope, Minnesota

Mixed by: David Melek and Steve Kaul at Wild Sound Studio

Mixed and Mastered by: Ryan Rusch at The Weight Room in Washburn, Wisconsin Music

Producers: David Melek, Barbara With, Marian Moore, Kaesha Baloch

Video Producer: Honor the Earth

Cinematographers: River Akemann, Bee Kakac, Keri PIckett

Editors: River Akemann, Bee Kakac

Director/Director of Photography: Keri Pickett


Lyrics: Down in the River To Pray

“SOLO: Gonna go down in the river to pray Studying the Anishinaabe way And who’ll protect the wild rice Creator, show us the way

Chorus
Oh sisters let’s go down Let’s go down, come on down Oh sisters let’s go down Down in the river to pray

2. Gonna to go down in the river to pray Studying the Anishinaabe way
And who will kill the black snake now Great Spirit- show us the way

Chorus
Oh brothers let’s go down Let’s go shut that pipeline down
Come on brothers let’s go down Down in the river to pray

3. Gonna to go down in the river to pray Studying the Anishinaabe way
And who’ll protect the water now Great Spirit show us the way

Chorus
Oh fathers let’s go down
Let’s go shut that pipeline down Come on drop the charges now And come down in the river to pray

4. We went down in the river to pray Studying the Anishinaabe way And we’ll protect the wild rice Great Spirit show us the way

Chorus
Oh mothers let’s go down
Come on shut that black snake down Come on mothers let’s go down Down in the river to pray

BRIDGE
4 CHORUS AGAIN

5. We went down in the river to pray Studying the Anishinaabe way And we protect the water now Great Spirit show us the way

Chorus
Oh Enbridge let’s go down
Let’s go shut your pipeline down Oh Enbridge let’s go down Down in the river to pray

6. FINAL
As we went down in the river to pray Studying the Anishinaabe way
And we protect our future now Great Spirit show us the way.”

— DOWN IN THE RIVER TO PRAY
We went down to the river to pray, every day.We prayed for a way to protect water, and all beings who drink water, from harm by the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge. Enbridge sucked rivers (and fire hydrants) dry during historic drought, poisoned rivers with drilling fluid, broke ancient aquifers – losing millions of gallons of artesian water.
We pray the oil pipelines will be safely turned off, before they spill again.Enbridge, Inc. paid over $7 million for over 1,000 arrests of those opposed to their Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Hundreds of peaceful water protectors now face thousands of criminal charges – including “felony theft” and “conspiracy” – for protecting Minnesota’s water.Those who defended water must now defend themselves. Some may be crushed with fines over $3 million or jail time over a decade. Please ask Governor Walz to support dropping the charges against water protectors – visit WeProtectTheWater.orgDown in the River to Pray The earliest recorded version of this song, “The Good Old Way,” was published in the landmark “Slave Songs of the United States,” an 1867 collection of African-American spirituals gathered by northern abolitionists.December 17, 2020, interfaith prayer gathering for the water, on 1855 Treaty Territory near where Line 3 pipe was forced under the mighty Mississippi RiverJanuary 20, 2022, recording session with members of “Women Who Cook,” singing in support of water and her protectors.

For more information – or to interview any of the participants in the “Down in the River to Pray” – please contact Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications, 612-220-6515, mkeller@mediasavantcom.com, @mediasavant.


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By Published On: May 2nd, 20220 Comments

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