The new Hurray for the Riff Raff album, 'Life on Earth,' is out Friday
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
Ann Powers of NPR Music writes that Alynda Segarra is one of the most adventurous spirits to ever come out of the Americana music scene. Segarra is better known as Hurray for the Riff Raff.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PIERCED ARROWS")
ALYNDA SEGARRA: (Singing) Pierced arrows from the sky fall through me every time.
MARTINEZ: Their new album is out today. It's called "Life On Earth." And to mark the release, Ann Powers is hosting a listening party over at NPR Music.
ANN POWERS, BYLINE: In the five years it took to make "Life On Earth," Alynda Segarra found themselves feeling not only isolated by the pandemic but increasingly concerned about the climate crisis and humanity's alienation from nature. Looking for guidance, Alynda discovered the work of Adrienne Maree Brown, especially her book "Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds." Brown's captivating writing is aimed at activists and artists waging what she calls the imagination battle, the fight to overcome prejudice and oppression by telling new stories and dreaming of a healthier future.
SEGARRA: "Emergent Strategy" taught me so much about this emphasis on relationship. And I think the pandemic and the lockdown taught me a lot about diving deep into relationship, how important that is for all of us right now.
POWERS: When I heard "Life On Earth," I became fascinated with how Segarra's music engaged Brown's ideas to create a soundtrack to surviving and thriving in hard times. I brought the two of them together to talk about the album.
ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: The weight of the music feels right for this time, and it feels right for the questions that "Emergent Strategy" is asking, which is, how do we turn inward and reconnect to everything?
SEGARRA: I feel like I'm a recovering lone wolf. I think that's - you know, with my last work, I was really trying to save us. And I realized that I - no one can do that alone, and that's not what we want from each other, actually.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NIGHTQUEEN")
SEGARRA: (Singing) You know, they call me the night queen 'cause I live in the dark.
BROWN: This is a - I think a distinctly human problem - is because we can reason, our ego makes us think we're supposed to be saving others, saving, saving, saving rather than fully living into community. And I just keep going through this of, like, at every level, there's a way that we have to opt into life. I felt that so much in the "nightqueen" song. To me, that - I'm like, this is about to be the anthem on repeat for me.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NIGHTQUEEN")
SEGARRA: (Singing) And I'm addicted to freedom. Well, honey, what good will that do?
So much of what I've learned making this album and reading your work is about the trust of being loved and how it's actually a very big leap to jump into that unknown and trust that community will be there.
BROWN: That's right.
SEGARRA: It's a terrifying place when you're a lone wolf, when you're like, I'm going to just struggle through this world on my own, you know?
POWERS: That's musician Alynda Segarra in conversation with author Adrienne Maree Brown. You can hear more of their exchange, as well as the entire Hurray for the Riff Raff album, at an NPR Music listening party today at 11 a.m. Pacific.
I'm Ann Powers for NPR Music.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAGA")
SEGARRA: (Singing) But I don't want this to be...
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