Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement that swept the United States two years ago, the new single from the NYC rock-n-soul group is written to honor the ancestors who have been fighting this fight for centuries
When Brandi & The Alexanders sent over a song called “FIRE,” my mind couldn’t help but immediately go to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and the catchy chorus—We didn’t start the fire // It was always burning, since the world’s been turning—sandwiched between verses that are more like lists, a series of lyrics alluding to world events ranging from war and crime to sports and scandal, problems in society, politics and pop culture, between the years 1949 and 1989. Inspired (according to Wikipedia) by a conversation with a 21-year-old friend of Sean Lennon, the idea is that every generation has their problems. They’ve always existed, and these struggles, and our need to fight, are nothing new.
So let’s get back to Brandi & The Alexanders’ new song, a soul-rock-funk anthem inspired by Brandi Thompson’s experience as a Black woman and structured around, and starring, her powerful and emotionally stirring voice. SimIlarly, this track is about a need to fight that has persisted for generations, but rather than a list of singular issues, it hones in one particularly intense and tragic one, a sickness that’s plagued our nation for centuries. And in this case, the fire in question isn’t referring to what’s being fought, per se, but what—or moreso who—is doing the fighting. Sparked by the protests that swept our nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, this song is named for and rooted in the fire that lives inside the artist, her ancestors, and those who have and are continuing to battle racism, discrimination, and horrific acts of inequality and violence every day.
From Brandi and the Alexanders, a day ahead of its release, this is “FIRE.”
Ahead of the song’s drop, Brandi shot over some background on the track and some personal insights on the song and the movements, present and past, that inspired it.
“In the spring of 2020, a second Civil Rights Movement overwhelmed the United States. I was as swept up in the movement as anyone, but I decided to write a song to not just stand against the brutality that was happening that spring but to remind my listeners that this brutality and discrimination is not new; my ancestors survived similar brutality and discrimination – like that which we saw in 2020 and the many years prior – for centuries. I’m proud to be a product of my ancestors who survived generation after generation; their strength is my strength, and I wrote this song to honor them. As the saying goes, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams. Theirs are the shoulders on which I stand and which have gotten me where I am today.”
In other words, the fire is one that’s long been burning and that can’t, and won’t, be extinguished. One that has been passed on as new generations continue to pick up the torch, continue writing the story and keep fighting the fight until one day, god willing, there will be a generation who won’t have to.
Brandi & The Alexanders were scheduled to celebrate the single release on Friday night at Rockwood Music Hall, but one of the members unfortunately caught COVID, so the show will now be rescheduled. However, if you want to know what the rest of the band is up to the rest of the weekend, subscribe to THE SETLIST to get an itinerary written by Brandi & the Alexanders delivered straight to your inbox tomorrow. And while you’re here and online, check out Brandi’s favorite places in Brooklyn from our interview with the talented artist back in 2019.
Feature image provided by the band.