"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," my recording of iconic poet Maya Angelou reading that famous poem was on a Buckshot LaFonque album. For those who don't know what that is (and I am betting most) that was Branford Marsalis' 90s hip-hop experiment. But it was the poem that stood out for me and made the recording special. We lost Angelou in 2014.
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings.
What was it that pulled me in to this poem about a little bird locked inside a cage, bruised and sore? It was Angelou’s voice that connected me to the poem. But it wasn’t the CD that I grabbed for at the news of her passing. The first thing I did was checkout SoundCloud.com.
At the site, which is also available as an app, a search reveals readings and speeches by Angelou, as well as radio shows and other recordings that focused on the poet. Remember when Gil-Scott Heron said, “The revolution will not be televised”?
Today’s revolution of the people is on social media sites like Twitter and SoundCloud. With these platforms individual voices matter again and have inspired actual revolutions around the world.
SoundCloud may not be the revolution that iTunes was as far as music distribution, but still it has the ability to bring artists out into the larger media landscape. By now institutions like the New York Times and NPR are already on SoundCloud, so it’s no longer a question of “Does this media have anything to offer?” but rather “How does an artist stay current and give their work whatever shot they can?”
The birdsong in Angelou’s poem is not a loud song, but it’s been put out there for the world to hear. There are billions of people on this overcrowded planet, all of us, social animals watching and listening for someone to connect with. SoundCloud is a way to get your voice out there.
By the way, my own SoundCloud profile can be found at <https://soundcloud.com/myersgene>.
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