Former Vampire Weekend member Rostam improvised a piano accompaniment to Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s speech at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration on Wednesday, January 20. Gorman was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017 and is now the youngest inaugural poet in United States history. The speech was a recital of her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
Rostam has been a solo artist since leaving Vampire Weekend, and is working on a new album featuring lead single “Unfold You.” He recorded the piano in his studio after being “deeply moved by Amanda Gorman’s poem.” The improvisation was played in G Major as the second of three takes Rostam recorded while listening back to the speech. His impressionist piano chords and occasional triplets emphasize the emotions present in Gorman’s words.
It’s an inspirational poem about facing adversity and rising to overcome it, both as individuals and as a nation. “When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?/The loss we carry. A sea we must wade,” she begins. It’s a nearly six minute long recital, which ends with the empowering words, “When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid/The new dawn balloons as we free it/For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it/If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
Gorman was recommended to be inaugural poet by now-first lady Jill Biden after winning people over with her appearances at events for figures like Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Malala Yousafzai, as well as on CBS This Morning and at the Library of Congress. She has a few book deals, and her first poetry collection The Hill We Climb is available for pre-order.