To illustrate how raw Abby Lincoln could get, listen to this track off of We Insist! Freedom Now Suite.
According to Nat Hentoff’s liner notes, Prayer is “the cry of an oppressed people, Protest is a final uncontrollable unleashing of rage,” and Peace is the “relaxed exhaustion after you’ve done everything you can to asset yourself.” This triptych was originally conceived as a ballet, and while the majority of We Insist! has lyrics by Oscar Brown, this piece consists of improvised guttural moans, flights of fury, and sighs.
Abby didn’t make it for the front cover lunch counter photo shoot. In fact, no one did. That’s not the band. But here she is on the back cover with Olatunji.
Thanks to my friend Patrick for turning me onto Abbey Lincoln.