Must Hear Katrina Song

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I wept the first time I heard The Hurricane Song, a plaintive tune which succinctly summarizes the events which unfolded in the wake of Katrina, all without ever resorting to finger-pointing. I was so moved, in fact, that I had to track down its composer, Irvin Lee, who turned out to be a rather unassuming man, a modest music producer located in Fairfax, Virginia. He informed me that he wrote the piece and plays all the instruments, and that a friend of his, Allen Watty, did the vocals. If this hastily-created spiritual is any indication of the duo’s potential, I expect big things to be in store for the both of them.  
BSN: What inspired you to write such a powerful song?
IL: Basically, watching the hurricane footage, and being touched by it. And then as the days went by, I was absolutely moved beyond anything normal. I began to questioning what I was looking at. After the second day, I figured it couldn’t any further than that, but days went by! Days went by!    

BSN: I loved your choice of lyrics which touched on everything, and so poignantly.
IL: That was the challenge. After watching what I saw, I felt a gamut of emotions I wanted to express. But I knew that to write a song, I had to limit myself. First, I wrote down many more words than I ultimately used. Then I had to refine it, and pay attention to the subjects I wanted to cover. Of course, I couldn’t cover them all, but I did cover the areas that most affected me and that I thought were affecting most people I was talking to. I took my time. It definitely was an emotional thing for me.

BSN: Sounds like you felt compelled to write it?
IL: It was something I had to do, as opposed to something I just wanted to do. 

BSN: What is your musical background?
IL: I have a studio, called Music You Can Feel, and our first artist is Allen Watty. We were already working on album, with lyrics about life and life. We’re trying to go back to songs that move you and make you think.

BSN:  Like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?
IL: That’s right. It’s very emotional. We’ve been getting rave reviews from those who’ve heard it.

BSN: What instruments do you play on The Hurricane Song?
IL: Everything, electric piano, acoustic piano, drums, bass, synthesizer. 

BSN: Where did you study music? In school? In church?
IL: Nowhere. I’m self-taught. 

BSN: How much did you and Allen practice before making the recording?
IL: This is going to surprise you, he never rehearsed the song. He sang it on the spot. I gave it to him to listen to on a little digital recorder. He took a couple of minutes to go over it, and then he said, “I’m ready.�

BSN: Who are your musical influences?
IL: Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, all the great ones. I can’t pick one over the others. 

BSN: What has been the reaction to The Hurricane Song? I would expect that music industry execs will be pounding on your door before long?
IL: Mos Def called me. He went on and on about how great the song was and how anybody he’s hipped it to thinks it’s great.

BSN: Is it getting a lot of radio airplay?
IL: Not really, I’ve spoken to program directors who actually said they thought their audiences wouldn’t want to hear it.
BSN: I’m surprised because it doesn’t have a political agenda or do any finger-pointing. I think it ought to be a hit playing on every pop music station, and you deserve to make some decent money for writing such a remarkable song.  
IL: For me, making it and getting the message out, was accomplishing what I was trying to do. I wasn’t trying to make any money from it.  

BSN: That’s a beautiful sentiment. However, from my perspective, I still feel that whoever wrote and performed on this song ought to make ten million dollars from it.
IL: I hear what you’re saying, but I’d be happy if ten million people just heard it. If that happened, then I’d be where I want to be, brother.   

BSN: Alright, brother, I appreciate that, but I still want you to make some money or at least have your career take off from this. 
IL: Take care, brother.

BSN: Peace, bro.

Readers please also visit to hear the song

“Then it hit me
Ain’t nobody coming to get me
No one feels my pain

Once again
The color of my skin reminds me
Things ain’t changed

Begging you for water
Again and again
Please don’t make me drink the water
That I’m standing in…�—Excerpted from The Hurricane Song by Irvin Lee


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