From Amurica's portraits of Memphians under quarantine.
As it has for so many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted some long-anticipated events in the life of teenager Skyy Jordan. A budding singer, the local ninth-grader was looking forward to performing the national anthem this Saturday at a Peabody Hotel event honoring The Salvation Army of Memphis & The Mid-South, featuring special guest Tony Dungy. But the fundraiser and the NFL celebrity's visit were postponed to a future date (to be announced) due to the current need for social distancing.
While most of us have come to recognize how the hardships of isolation have affected musicians in particular, this may be doubly so for teens. Just as their talents are blossoming, they must curtail all group activities and often even their lessons. Postponing a high-profile event can have a huge impact on a young person who's invested many hopes and dreams in such a moment.
This is especially so for Jordan, who was born with a rare and relatively unknown condition called septo optic dysplasia, leaving her completely blind. Despite such a setback, Jordan has doggedly pursued her love of singing and is already making a name for herself in the region. The support of her mother, Bridgett Jordan, has been no small part of this, and that led her to make something of her daughter's vocal talents in an imaginative way.
Inspired to pair a recording of her daughter's singing with the recent work of photographer Jamie Harmon, Bridgett ended up with an especially moving homemade video. As the mastermind behind the roving Amurica studio, and a well known professional in the field (whose work is familiar to most readers of this blog), Harmon has taken a unique approach to the current straits we're living in. A quick visit to the @amuricaworld account on Instagram reveals his latest project: a photographic series documenting people stuck at home.
Photographer Jamie Harmon of Amurica
Such a description doesn't do the work justice, given the charged meaning of such non-activity these days. And now, paired with the purity of Skyy's voice, intoning a song that cuts to the soul of many a fellow citizen, those images come to life as never before.
While we don't often make a great show of patriotism here at the music blog, this is a time and a place where the shared community of such music cuts through all jingoism and cant. Here, in stark images and heartfelt music, is the "imagined community" of a nation of which author Benedict Anderson wrote. In the end, we are left with a pure Memphis moment, both intimate and moving in its unadorned simplicity. Take a few minutes to watch and listen to this video, a true labor of love from just one family among many that are trying to make the best of these all-too-interesting times.