BHM Inspiration - The Emotions "Peace Be Still" (Live)

Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 3.51.03 PM.png

“Peace Be Still” is a staple of the black church. The song written by the Reverend James Cleveland, who many would argue is the father of modern gospel music (from small group hymn performance to booming large choirs), is the “Stairway to Heaven” (pun intended) or “Freebird” of modern gospel music. If you grew up in the black church you heard this song many times but you always heard different versions of it because everyone has to put their unique spin on it. That is the beauty and consistency of the church where the gift of music and sharing is always new and different. You learn the standards and go your entire life hearing variations of them that you’ll never hear again. 

One of the most touching and emotional versions of “Peace Be Still” for me is a video recording of the R&B group The Emotions covering it at a church in Watts, California in the early 70’s. It is from the movie Wattstax, the Stax Records version of “Woodstock”, 7 years after a race in Watts riot injured over 1000 and killed 34 people. The visual is stunning because it’s at an old church within a neighborhood that is poor and below the poverty line — but that doesn’t matter on this day and in this moment to the congregation. Their faith and the music will make things right. The hardships of being black in America and racism are lifted for a small period of time when the people in the pews participate finding salvation in song and spirit. While they don’t have much, they have each other and song. This spirit of the church has helped generations survive and continues to this day. “Peace Be Still” is darkness and pain being overtaken by light and collective spirit. Everyone who knows ”Peace Be Still” has their favorite. When you take into account the historical and cultural context of that moment (and today) The Emotions rendition delivers a compelling performance that resonates and comforts in the toughest of times.

The amazing long version of the song below. Brings down the house every time.