“I was impressed with the message of the song,” Ms. Jones said in a statement. “In a period after September 11th, being ‘patriotic’ was polarizing. However, this song exceeded the mud flinging of the time. It carries such a beautiful feeling that honors the past and is committed to the work we must do in the future. At its core, the song is ambitious. “It is even more poignant today, she added,” when we see such strong opposition in our own country. “
“I think it really fits with President Biden’s message of unity and cooperation,” she said.
Last year, after singing Work on Justice Ginsburg, Ms. Graves met with Vice President Kamala Harris, who was then a Senator, and she remembered Mr. Biden, who told her how touched he was by the song.
“I told him it was from my friend Gene Scheer,” she said. “When the President mentioned it in his speech, I almost fell over. It’s a great way to start the new year. “
In recent years, Mr. Scheer has enjoyed success as an opera librettist: he wrote the libretti for Jake Heggie’s “Moby-Dick”, Tobias Picker’s “An American Tragedy” and Jennifer Higdon’s “Cold Mountain”; and his works have been performed at the Met Opera, the Royal Opera House in London and other prestigious stages.
But the success of that song, he said, felt more personal. When President Biden quoted it this week, he thought of his parents and wished they had seen the initiation.
“When Biden did this, it felt like I was connecting with my people in a very meaningful and visceral way,” he said, adding that his mother would have been “thrilled” if Ms. Harris had become Vice President and his parents “would have stood up for everything Biden said.”
What these words from her son’s song contained:
The work and prayers of the centuries
Got us up to this day
What should our legacy be?
What will our children say?
Let me know in my heart
When my days are over
America, America, I did my best for you.