On Monday night, politicians, musicians, actors and influencers, from Miley Cyrus to Hillary Clinton, came together for a two-hour live stream dedicated to the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The “Honor Her Wish” live stream, while free for all, collected donations that will go toward urging senators to not replace the Justice’s seat until a new president is installed early next year.
Jon Batiste, sat upon a rooftop with a melodica, — begins the live stream with a chilling instrumental performance of the National Anthem. Accompanied only by an upright bassist, Batiste’s melodica carries a raw tune, a sense of instability that isn’t characteristic of the impassioned, centuries-old song; Batiste’s is almost captivatingly dejected. In his composition, one senses the massive hole in the country as a result of Ginsburg’s passing, and equally, one feels the desperate need to repair what has been broken.
“[Ginsburg] was the very definition of truth, justice and honor,” Margo Price speaks before performing her painfully relevant song “Pay Gap,” a track about gender wage inequality. Teamed up with her husband on the harmonica while she strikes hard, clean notes on the guitar, Price’s lyrics are clear; the singer/songwriter doesn’t hide behind vocal-drowning reverb or complex metaphors. “We’re all the same in the eyes of God/ But in the eyes of rich white men/ I’m no more than a maid to be owned like a dog,” Price sings, her vocals effortless, maintaining her sweet vocal tone with just an added edge of defiance.
Dedicated to the “women in [her] family who overcame sexual and domestic violence…all victims of sexual and domestic violence,” Hayley Williams appears next to perform a live version of her song, “Lotus/Roses/Violet/Iris.” The track, which Williams released recently in replacement of her planned second EP, navigates womanhood through vivid, floral metaphors. Joined by her band in an ’80s-deco, pink-hued living room, Williams begins the song by highlighting the faulty notion that female body image and female beauty are related, singing: “I have seen your body/ And I have seen your beauty/ They are separate things/ Pretty, pretty, pretty things.” Emotive in her vocal tone, Williams’ range provides the perfect auditory emotion for her lyrics, which enforce the hope for feminine unity and sisterhood.
Phoebe Bridgers provides hope with a stripped-down live version of her song “Graceland Too,” joined by collaborators Harrison Whitford and Marshall Vore. The song is a perfect showcase of Bridgers’ supreme ability as a songwriter: her innate talent for weaving personal, specific details into poetic lyrics and folk-style chord progressions, composing songs that feel widely relatable. The performance is organic—coincidentally, when Bridgers is at her best.
Kesha reminds everyone of her insane vocal range with “Here Comes The Change,” a track written for the 2018 movie about Ginsburg, On The Basis of Sex. While the original version is anthemic, there’s something even more powerful about Kesha’s live version, as she is joined by nothing or anyone other than her voice and a piano. Her range is expansive and jaw-dropping; her lyrics perfectly sum up RBG’s legacy: “Oh it’s hard, I know it’s hard/ To be the lightning in the dark/ Hold on tight you’ll be alright/ You know it’s time.” More than a dedication to the Justice’s eternal life, Kesha’s voice is full of hope for the generation of changemakers Ginsburg herself worked to pioneer.
Teyana Taylor brings her light with a homemade music video for her song, “We Got Love,” a written word-style track with R&B roots. “Love is the new money,” Taylor’s message behind the track, exudes her joy while she dances with her family and friends, holds her young baby and showcases her daughter, Iman, who is more than happy to take front-and-center in the dancing scenes.
Appearing in various Zoom video squares, Resistance Revival Chorus comes together to close the live stream with a strong, unified and creative virtual performance of “The Rich Man’s House.” The group is made up of women-identifying singers who believe that “joy is a form of protest,” a message that shines through in their exuberant performance. Made up of so many singers—over 70, to be approximate—the group provides the perfect closure for a night of remembrance, the final candlestick in lighting up RBG’s eternal life. Because truly, as she continues to live in the souls of so many, Justice Ginsburg will live forever.
Photo Credit: Mehreen Rizvi