Nashville chanteuse Miss Tess released her brand new single, “Real Change.” The song was written with Maya de Vitry a month or two after the death of George Floyd. “The world was on fire,” recalls Miss. Tess. “Of all the sadness and loss already experienced through the onset of a global pandemic, I thought maybe it all happened for a reason. Most of our working systems came to a standstill for the first time in recent history, and the world had time to listen, watch, and react.”
While the conversations are not new, people of all shapes and colors were and are willing to fight for accountability. “A lot of us have had the luxury of not knowing for a very long time. It’s much harder not to notice now, but it seems like you still never really understand until it happens to you or someone you love,” Miss Tess explains. “Our power and money-hungry machines are always waiting in the wings to push their agendas and keep us divided with their tools of racism, misogyny, and exploitation. ‘Divide and conquer’ as the old saying goes. The people must remember how much power they have. My goal is not to preach from some high pulpit but rather to spread a humble message of hope and unity. As we emerge from this dark pandemic cocoon may we continue practicing the power of love and awareness toward our fellow humans,” she continues. “The world will never be perfect, but we have to keep trying, and insisting that real change is possible.”
“Real Change” was co-produced by Miss Tess and Thomas Bryan Eaton (guitar), and also features Lindsay Lou and Rachael Davis (background vocals), John Pahmer (piano, organ), Rhees Williams (bass), and Dan Holmes (drums). Miss Tess will donate 100% of the song’s proceeds to Nashville racial justice nonprofit Gideon’s Army*, a community-based, grassroots organization that uses restorative justice programs to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline through social activism by children, families, and the community.
When most people think of defiant music, they think of punk rock or outlaw country. But defying genres while transcending eras and resisting clichés is hard to pin down when it comes to artistry unless you’re talking about Miss Tess, who does all of that and more. Swinging for the fences and from the branches of jazz, country, blues, and old school rock and roll, she employs all of her influences and talents while cleverly taking standard perspectives and ideas – like the definition of a love song – to task. From soulful swagger to jazz, blues, a little old-school country, and even a touch of psychedelia, Miss Tess shows both the pluck and poise to fold a multitude of styles into her own. In early 2020, Miss Tess released her acclaimed LP The Moon Is An Ashtray, co-produced with Andrija Tockic and lauded by Billboard, Rolling Stone Country, No Depression. Wide Open Country, The Boot, and more.
ABOUT GIDEON’S ARMY: Gideon’s Army is a community-based, grassroots organization that works to design programs based on contemporary interpretations of the theory of restorative justice. As a locally-based organization with a long-term goal for state-wide expansion, Gideon’s Army is currently the only local organization in Nashville that focuses solely on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline through social activism by children in the prison pipeline, their families, and their community. Utilizing research-based best practices combined with community outreach, Gideon’s Army builds its restorative justice programs based upon this information and uses program results to guide its policy work. Through intensive volunteer and community training as well as dialogue, we as a community lead and work together throughout the entire process. The organization uniquely emphasizes youth empowerment and community member leadership as well as direct interfacing with families, the juvenile courts, and the public school system. Gideon’s Army facilitators, mentors, and other volunteers are members of the North Nashville community, who train fellow youth, educators, and others in continuing the process of educating. This training structure creates a positive cyclical pipeline based in restorative juice to combat the destructive effects of the school-to-prison pipeline.
Photo Courtesy: Natalia Cinco