An inspiring narrative of bridge-building, hope, and resilience from beloved folk musician Reggie Harris.

Product Code: 6621
ISBN: 9781558969254
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Skinner House Books
Pages: 270
Size: 8.5 x 5.5
Published Date: 04/16/2024
Availability:In stock
Price: $18.00

The May 2024 Justice and Spirit: Unitarian Universalist Book Club selection.

An inspiring narrative of bridge-building, hope, and resilience from a beloved folk musician.

Before renowned musician Reggie Harris was a sought-after performer, educator, cultural ambassador, and civil rights advocate, he was a low-income Black kid in Philadelphia with a love of music. He was transported by the vibrant sound that filled the air in his church, the voices calling out with passion, the rhythm and the release, and the powerful sense of community.

Searching for Solid Ground is a captivating and deeply personal chronicle of Harris’s extraordinary life, from his early years, when his love of music was fueled by singing everywhere he could—at home, at church, and in the school choir—to performing across the world for over forty years, to his current work blending his musical gifts with a commitment to promote justice and peace and heal the racial divide.

Harris shares his triumphs and his struggles, his hard-won wisdom and insights, including the challenges he faced launching a career in folk music as a Black musician, his transformative experience hearing James Baldwin speak and the beginnings of his own justice work, and a harrowing journey back to health through the gift of a liver transplant, among many other remarkable moments.

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A Note on Language

1. Let There Be Music

2. Across the Great Divide

3. Pickle in the Middle

4. A Detour, and a Taste of Freedom

5. Finding My Musical Path

6. A Way Outta No Way

7. A Cultural Ambassador for Music, Healing, and Hope

8. “Are These Stories True?”

9. O Say, Can You See?

10. Touring While Black

11. Out in the Country

12. I Have No People . . . or Do I?

13. A Second Chance at Life

14. Hickory Hill

15. Deeper Than the Skin

16. The Living Legacy Project

17. The Balsam Guys

18. Toward Solid Ground

19. Sankofa

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that he was a drum major for justice. In that same spirit, I have come to embrace the fact that I am a cultural ambassador for music, healing, and hope. Through sharing my music and my stories, and sometimes simply by being present in the room, I’ve been able to plant seeds of hope in the world. From a young age, I have sought to build bridges among people of different races. From the schools I attended, to the sports teams on which I played, to the places I have chosen to live, to the work that I have chosen to do, I have tried to build unity and impart hope.

Songs and stories are my method of spreading hope. They inform us, reconnect us to who we are, and connect us to each other. They impart lessons that make our lives more meaningful. And with context and reflection, they can show us what we might become: a society in which people of all races are treated with justice and dignity.

I love being a musician. I love the joy and power of singing and performing to create understanding among people. And I enjoy using music, when necessary, to disrupt the comfortable stasis that can cause us to settle into patterns of defensiveness and complacency. I try to do this respectfully, in an effort to encourage all of us—myself included—to consider and reconsider our points of view and hopefully to heal ourselves and our nation.

Music is the vehicle that re-energizes and reconnects me to the struggle and the joy. Music gives voice to the will and the wisdom of those ancestors on whose shoulders I stand. I sing so that others can find peace in their hearts and know that they are not alone. I sing because it is the balm that heals and makes us whole.

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