Adia Victoria, 'South Gotta Change': Protest Music In 2020 : We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020 This song, part of our 'We Insist' timeline of 2020's noteworthy protest music, was released Aug. 28.
NPR logo Adia Victoria's 'South Gotta Change' Is A Reckoning In Love And Fury

Adia Victoria's 'South Gotta Change' Is A Reckoning In Love And Fury

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The South is a brutal place, many feel — the birthplace of American racism. It is also a Black place, and a beautiful one: the music, foodways, spiritual life and family traditions Black Americans sustained throughout centuries of attempted erasure by the white ruling caste provides much of what makes this nation vibrant. The beauty is tied to the land, from coastline to mountains to delta. Adia Victoria, born in South Carolina with more recent ties to Nashville, locates the contours of her own body and being in the Southern earth, and this blues-driven oracular statement is her pledge to it, in love and fury.

"I stood up to the mountain, told the mountain say my name," Victoria wails over a church-born organ line in the center of this song. That image — her confrontation with monumental, historical oppression, simultaneously a mystical union with a landscape and Black heritage that welcomes her — epitomizes Victoria's mission to refresh overtold Southern stories by finding herself in them. (She is a blues poet, after all.) A clear reckoning, "South Gotta Change" is also a love song — "I won't leave you," Victoria sings, her voice breaking. Instead, she tells the land that she considers a living being, she will "drag you into the light." With "South Gotta Change," Victoria offers a way to consider the region in all its complexity — an origin point worth fighting about, and for.