Just in time for LGBT+ Pride weekend in San Francisco and New York City, the live folk-rock show, REVIVAL, has released an album as of June 21st.

Part of the spirit of Pride is modeling a world that focuses more on love and less on fear and hatred. REVIVAL‘s story based songs do just this – they send messages of healing, spirituality, joy, faith, and caring for the world we live in.

REVIVAL started out as a performance by singers Lea Kalisch and Julia Ostrov, violinist Samantha Gillogly, guitarist Ugene Romashov, and percussionist Anna Wray, all based in or around New York City. The music and lyrics were written by Kristen Plylar-Moore in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and they began performing the show in late 2016.

“The highly dehumanizing anti-immigrant rhetoric expressed during the presidential campaign, and the enthusiasm with which it was accepted by thousands of people, was deeply disturbing. It struck at a core principle that many of us claim – love your neighbor as yourself,” Plylar-Moore said. Considering both the celebration of Pride weekend and the moral outrage at the nightmarish actions of ICE at our nation’s southern border, music like this is timeless and necessary; we need it to remind us that there is always plenty of work to be done to change the way we think about others and build a safer and more accepting world. “Music, as with all of the arts, helps us to process the world around us and find meaning. Hopefully, it also connects us to our own humanity, and helps us to see the humanity in others.”

They have performed the show in progressive spiritual spaces around New York, including at Ostrov and Plylar Moore’s home synagogue, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, a synagogue that welcomes members of the LGBT+ community and families with similar values. Ostrov and Plylar-Moore are married and it was important to them for the album to be released with Pride weekend. “Staying engaged through activism with others in my faith community has given me hope. Music can help sustain us – uplift us, replenish our spirits so we can continue the struggle,” Plylar-Moore said.

By combining Jewish texts and Hebrew lyrics with Christian scriptures, REVIVAL uses religion as a method of expressing the values of a world rooted in peace and love for all, including for strangers. The whole album emphasizes the importance and need for bettering ourselves and the world we live in. “Susanna,” which is inspired by the story of Susanna in the Book of Daniel, and “The Prophet” focus on female empowerment in the face of oppression. “The Ark,” “Mother Was the Earth,” and “You Were Strangers” all discuss with powerful words and images that we have the power within us to be part of making the world a better place for future generations. The songs themselves are uplifting and thought provoking, which emphasizes how their messages are too important to ignore if we want to see meaningful and just change in the world.

On incorporating sacred texts into the music, Plylar-Moore said, “‘You Were Strangers’ was the first song I wrote, based on the line from Deuteronomy, ‘love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’”

The values of justice in the songs are based in faith traditions, but listeners do not have to be religious to receive the messages of the music. “Walk with God” explores how finding faith can be a troubling journey, but whoever goes looking for faith can eventually find it. By incorporating stories that revolve around faith with secular ideas of justice, REVIVAL emphasizes that these ideas are not necessarily separate. As is indicated by “Walk with God,” faith can give guidance on how to act in a large and troubling world, as it guides much of the album, but the way justice is highlighted in an overall sense makes it clear that faith can be part of the main goal of achieving justice. If the goal is to live in a world that strives for morality, justice must be the achievement of morality. REVIVAL has the inspirational power to remind people that they have an influence on creating a way to live that is based on morals and positive emotional responses to achieving justice.

Photo Credit: Harold Levine

The final song of the album, “The Ark,” summarizes the values that the songs portray by expressing that the world is a complicated place with uncomfortable and challenging times ahead. In the spiritual fashion of the rest of the album, it uses the metaphor of Noah’s ark to encourage keeping our minds and hearts open to “face the storm” of fearful times. The song is a perfect summation of the album because it is a reminder that open-mindedness and togetherness are valuable parts of the struggle for peace. With Pride weekend coming up, this album is a folksy and hopeful soundtrack for a time to uplift oppressed voices and encourage acceptance of one another and the idea of one human family.

For album purchasing options, visit https://www.revivaltheshow.com/album/ starting June 21st. If you would like to bring the REVIVAL live show to your community, contactkristen@revivaltheshow.com or visit their website at www.revivaltheshow.com.

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Robin Kopf is an editorial intern at Tikkun magazine. She is a recent graduate with honors from University of California-Santa Cruz with a BA in Literature.


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