‘Letter to a Nation’ Morgan Choir Alum Pens Song Confronting COVID and Racism
Ursula V. Battle | 2/26/2021, 6 a.m.
Moved by the civil unrest and racial disparities he was seeing happening around the nation, pinnacled by the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, Garrett “GP” Jackson sensed a calling to express himself in a creative way to share how he felt. He took words to pen and expressed sentiments through his debut solo release, “Letter to a Nation,” a song about coping with anger, grief, and tragedy, while opening the door to hope and healing.
“What made me write the song was the anger, frustration, and overwhelming grief of COVID-19 as it was taking shape, the impact it was having on the country, particularly how the previous administration was handling the outbreak and not taking it seriously,” said Jackson. “That was the initial trigger for the song.”
The Morgan State University graduate talked about the goals he hopes to accomplish through his debut song.
“There are three goals,” said Jackson. “The first is education. I want folks to be educated not just about COVID, but about how we can use our voices to combat the social challenges of our time, whether that’s creatively, like the song I wrote for instance, or a variety of other ways. The second goal is motivation. I want the piece to speak to students, community groups, businesses, government agencies, and others looking for ways to bring conversation to the table about the issues of our times. The song is one way to initiate those conversations. The third pillar is vaccinations. I am 100 percent a proponent of getting our community vaccinated. Black folks not only have a higher likelihood of getting the virus, but a higher likelihood of dying.”
Jackson noted the education component of the song involves working with Dr. Rhonda Hylton, an associate professor at Kent University in Ohio in developing a multi-disciplined curriculum for K-12 and postsecondary students. “This curriculum will center around civic engagement, social justice and racial equity,” said Jackson. “The reason we are focusing on these areas is to come up with best practices to teach our students to share their voices around the social challenges that are going on around them and how to best express themselves to cope with the grief and frustration many of them are experiencing.”
“Letter to a Nation” features a video of Jackson performing the song. The video was shot in Washington, D.C. by Make a Scene Media, a women-owned media agency based in Silver Spring, Maryland. Jackson said his debut work has been met with great success, with some comparing the songs compelling, thought-provoking message to the likes of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”
“The response has been overwhelming,” said Jackson, noting the video has been played by churches, agencies and various organizations during a plethora of events. “I am a member of Phi Beta Sigma, and the fraternity played it during our global founder’s event. Gospel legends Kurt Carr and Richard Smallwood have reached out with encouraging words as well. This is my first piece as a solo artist, so to get this kind of response is overwhelming. I really cannot put into words what is happening.”
A native of Mitchellville, Maryland, the 36-year-old has performed internationally at concert halls in France, Czech Republic, Russia, and Germany. A business consultant in the Washington, D.C. area, Jackson is married and has a son, Quincy. The trained baritone earned a master’s degree from George Washington University after completing his studies at Morgan.
“I trained at Morgan under Dr. Nathan Carter,” said Jackson referring to the late director of the Morgan State University Choir. “Dr. Carter’s standard of excellence was the driving factor for me not only joining the choir, but wanting to contribute to the legacy of the choir. I live by that standard of excellence in my music.
“While I hope “Letter to a Nation” will encourage Americans to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and begin the much-needed racial healing our country so desperately needs, I ultimately hope this song will inspire people everywhere to write their own proverbial letter about what they are going to do to enact change in their own communities.”
You can follow GP Jackson on social media at @RealGPJackson. His music is available on iTunes, Amazon or Spotify; and the compelling
“Letter to a Nation” video can be found on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxrI- csRscM