Seven Last Words of the Unarmed

by Joel Thompson

The Inspiration...

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.

John Crawford.jpg
Michael Brown.jpg
Kenneth Chamberlain.jpg

the words...

The 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.

Oscar Grant.jpg
Amadou Diallo.jpg

Kenneth Chamberlain:

"Officers why do you have your guns out?"

Trayvon Martin:

"What are you following me for?"

Oscar Grant:

"You shot me!"

Amadou Diallo:

"Mom, I'm going to college."

John Crawford:

"It's not real."

Michael Brown:

"I don't have a gun! STOP!"

Eric Garner:

"I can't breathe."

The Collaboration...

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.