Seven Last Words of the Unarmed
by Joel Thompson
Troubled by the continuous onslaught of killings of black men, Atlanta based composer Joel Thompson conceived "Seven Last Words of the Unarmed." Inspired by Joseph Haydn's "Seven Last Words of Christ," Joel set actual words from seven innocent victims of brutality to music.
The last words and/or correspondences of each victim spoke to Joel deeply, and he chose those that could be aligned with the structure of Haydn's work. Each victim's words are set in a different musical style, and Thompson also incorporates a secular French renaissance tune, "L'homme armé" (The Armed Man), into the composition.
"Officers why do you have your guns out?"
"What are you following me for?"
"You shot me!"
"Mom, I'm going to college."
"It's not real."
"I don't have a gun! STOP!"
"I can't breathe."
Dr. Eugene Rogers and the Michigan Men's Glee Club joined forces with Thompson to cultivate, premiere and record the piece, which has received critical acclaim and been the source of much conversation and awakening since its premiere in 2015.