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Thu Mar 29, 2018, 12:06 AM

The President Sang Amazing Grace (Joan Baez)

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The President Sang Amazing Grace
Mar 27, 2018 | 614 videos
Video by Jeff Scher

“I was driving when I heard ‘The President Sang Amazing Grace,’” Joan Baez told The Atlantic, “and I had to pull over to make sure I heard whose song it was because I knew I had to sing it.” The 77-year-old folk legend included the song in her final album, Whistle Down The Wind, released in early March. Originally written and performed by Zoe Mulford following the 2015 mass shooting in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Baez’s rendition of “The President Sang Amazing Grace” has been animated in a powerful new video by Jeff Scher, premiering on The Atlantic today.

“[When Barack] Obama sang ‘Amazing Grace’ at the service for the Charleston Church shooting victims, it was deeply moving,” Scher told The Atlantic. “Somehow Obama, with his humble singing voice, turned grief into grace. With humility, compassion, and a two-hundred-year-old hymn, he made us feel that the evil deeds of a sick individual could not shake the bonds of our common humanity.” For Scher, Obama’s performance expressed the emotions of “what it was like to be an American on that day— to have a great leader lift us up from despair.”

Baez’s performance lends the song a complex mix of emotions. “I love her voice at this stage in her career,” said Scher. “She still sings like an angel, but there is weather in her voice now, and it gives gravity to the sorrow.”

Scher approached the animation with careful attention to how the form would influence the substance of the song. “I wanted to give the animation a human, non-digital feel,” he said. “I used watercolor and pastel because they have the most emotion of any mediums. I wanted the scenes to feel like they were blooming from the white of the paper, like a photograph in a developer or a memory emerging from a cloud. I wanted it to feel as if the scenes were being remembered… which is really the grand goal of the song.”

This video was produced by Rick Litvin and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. It is the first of a 10-part visual album in collaboration with NYU that coincides with each of the 10 songs on Baez’s new album.


Author: Emily Buder

6 replies, 1373 views

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Reply The President Sang Amazing Grace (Joan Baez) (Original post)
Hestia Mar 2018 OP
madaboutharry Mar 2018 #1
Hestia Mar 2018 #2
PoiBoy Mar 2018 #3
The Wielding Truth Mar 2018 #4
Gothmog Mar 2018 #5
Granny M Mar 2018 #6

Response to Hestia (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2018, 12:17 AM

1. I have the Zoe Mulford album.

I cry every time I listen. Joan Baez sings it beautifully.

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Response to Hestia (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2018, 12:21 AM

2. Absolutely beautiful - I haven't heard of the song before, will go check it now

Baez’s performance lends the song a complex mix of emotions. “I love her voice at this stage in her career,” said Scher. “She still sings like an angel, but there is weather in her voice now, and it gives gravity to the sorrow.”

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Response to Hestia (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2018, 12:24 AM

3. Powerful...

...thank you for posting...











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Response to Hestia (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2018, 12:27 AM

4. Tears are in my eyes and my heart is full. Thank you, Hestia.

“Somehow Obama, with his humble singing voice, turned grief into grace. With humility, compassion, and a two-hundred-year-old hymn, he made us feel that the evil deeds of a sick individual could not shake the bonds of our common humanity.” For Scher, Obama’s performance expressed the emotions of “what it was like to be an American on that day— to have a great leader lift us up from despair.”

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Response to Hestia (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2018, 12:34 AM

5. WOW-thank you for posting this

This song was wonderful and so very powerful.

Again, thank you

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Response to Hestia (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2018, 02:30 AM

6. She sang it in Edinburgh 2 weeks ago.

Powerful song.

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