By Raya Yarbrough
My aunt took me down to Harlem, down to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
She talked to me about history, and struggle,
and my head took it in, as the history of struggle.
And my life went on.
Then I woke up, and her words were not history.
Place your hand on the asphalt.
The streets are hot.
They never cooled.
Raya Yarbrough is a singer and composer from Los Angeles. Though she is recognized most notably as the singer in the opening credits of the Outlander TV show, Yarbrough’s original music has also been featured in numerous films and televisions shows. In the last three years, she has performed/collaborated with pianist Billy Childs, and Van Dyke Parks. After three independent albums and countless live performances, including opening for Terence Blanchard at The Jazz Standard in New York City, Yarbrough made her international debut on Telarc (Concord) with her self-titled album, Raya Yarbrough. She is currently in the studio working on an album version of her original musical, North of Sunset West of Vine, a spoken-word influenced stage piece, about growing up on Hollywood Boulevard in the late 1980s. Visit her website at www.RayaYarbrough.com.
Listening recommendation: Raya Yarbrough’s eponymous album.
Photo credit: “Harlem Neighborhood” by Fett via a Creative Commons license.