When Mamie Till made the decision to have an open-casket funeral procession for her recently slain 14-year-old son Emmett Till, it laid bare not just his body, ravaged and mutilated after being horribly beaten and lynched for a crime he did not commit. It revealed to the rest of the country that there were in fact two different "Americas": one for whites and one for Blacks. After young Till's assailants were acquitted, just months later, they reportedly confessed to their crime in a magazine interview, knowing that there wouldn't be any actions taken.
London-based vocalist ALA.NI released "Lament for Emmett Till" on July 28, commemorating what would have been Till's 79th birthday with a rendition of journalist Claudia Jones's 1955 poem of the same name. Rereleased just one month later, to memorialize the time of his untimely death, she enlisted an arsenal of collaborators for the project, including Los Angeles-based producer Adrian Younge. Though upended by the pandemic, and pieced together remotely, ALA.NI's inherent connection to the material is tangible. From her evocative delivery of every harrowingly vivid detail to Younge's slick production, this requiem, nor the murder, loses none of its ineffaceable ache and horror: "Tears, blood and pain / All mixed in rage / Sorrow comes again / When I am there at heaven's gates / Will I be free?"