One voice, one song of heartbreak, and the power of the truth
The power of song in action: one mother’s song sung a capella by her 12-year old son, Keedron Bryant, with a message chilling in its simplicity, “I Just Want To Live.”
His mother Johnetta Bryant wrote the words in the aftermath of the outrage and ensuing riots resulting from the killing of George Floyd. Her son, Keedron, sang it with all his heart, and its impact was almost immediate. Suddenly there were over three million views on Instagram, as many luminaries responded and also shared it, including Barack Obama, Janet Jackson, Lebron James and others.
Asked on The Today Show today how he felt singing this song, Keedron said, “I felt sad that I have to sing that because it’s unfair that we can’t go out and, like the song says, live. I just want to live. We can’t go out and enjoy life and not be afraid, fear that something is going to happen to us, so it was really sad to have that feeling.”
Johnetta spoke about the impetus for writing this song, which was both about the necessary message, and also about a proud mom wanting the world to hear the singing of her soulful son.
“When I heard Mr. Floyd call out for his mom,” she said, “as a black mother, that really hit me in a deep way, and I began to pray, and so I said, ‘God, this world needs help like never before.’ I need to be able to give my son some wisdom that’s gonna help him to be able to live and to be confident in this world, and I knew that it could only come from God.”
“So I said, ‘Keedron, I want you to pray on these words, I want you to meditate on them, allow God to speak to you so that you may be able to speak to the people and also get some encouragement for yourself,” she said.
“He came back after his devotion and he’s like, ‘Mom, I’m ready.'”
Keedron recorded the song at their home in Jacksonville, Florida, after daily prayer.