As host city for the 2016 ESSENCE Festival, the city of New Orleans, Louisiana served as our home-away-from-home as we enjoyed an epic 4th of July weekend filled with incredible music, food and seminars (stay tuned for our recap). So it hurt our heart to learn of the senseless, brutal killing of Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling following this empowering celebration of "Peak Blackness." Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, and to the area as a whole as it braces for tension in the coming days and weeks.
With Hurricane Katrina still fresh in our minds, we find some comfort in knowing the Crescent City will ultimately rise above any negative circumstances. The spirit of resiliency that flows through its denizens is the very same theme that invigorates PJ Morton's affirming groove "Sticking To My Guns." The native son penned the inspirational song long before the tragic events of yesterday morning, but lyrics like, "You can give me all you got / You can throw it all at me / Never, ever, ever gonna stop 'til I'm free," now take on even greater meaning when taken in context of the area's fateful history and present reality.
Further driving the point home is the powerful video shot and directed by local notable Allendra "Cinemadona" Freeman (who previously worked with PJ on "I Need Your Love" and helped bring Beyoncé's Lemonade vision to life). The NOLA-filmed visuals are centered on a rousing church service, complete with impassioned preaching, soul-stirring music and Holy Ghost-filled saints. Even the children are moved to action, taking part in the service through deed and song (courtesy of local talents The Royal Boys Choir). But the most impactful scenes focus on personal/inward struggles, using jarringly effective imagery that represents death and rebirth (adverse self vs. empowered self).
PJ declares, "This is the best video I've done thus far!!" Watch the clip below and let us know if you agree. The five-track Sticking To My Guns maxi-single (which also features "First Began") is currently available for purchase via retailers like Amazon and iTunes. PJ Morton is in the midst of a summer tour, so be sure to visit his website or follow him on Twitter and Instagram for updates.