Naomi Westwater calls us to action in her cover of Crooked Coast's "Rise & Shine." The haunting electronic anthem, a collaboration with musician C. Watson, benefits Fair Fight, an organization that advocates for fair elections and voting rights in Georgia and around the country.
Westwater's music took on new meaning over the summer, after the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests all over the country. In August, she recorded her version of Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit," which raised $1,000 for the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the first national memorial for Black victims of lynching in the United States, founded by the Equal Justice Initiative.
"For the time being, if I'm making music, there has to be some current other than just making music to make music," Westwater tells me.
When Cape Cod-based band Crooked Coast reached out to Westwater asking her to cover their song, she initially planned on an acoustic version, but upon hearing — and loving — the preview, she decided she wanted to do something more produced. Without musicians to record with in person, she recorded her vocals in her closet and produced them on Ableton and iZotope. She says recording the cover allowed her to have more fun with it.
"There was something very carefree about it since it wasn't my song. I could be creative in a way that when it is my personal song, I feel more limited," she says. "I felt like I could really experiment and just go all out."
She reached out to fellow musician and friend Colin Watson to bring the track's production to the next level. With Watson currently based in Spain, they never recorded in the same room, but they created a perfectly moody track remotely, with booming bass and Westwater's clear harmonies.
Westwater hopes that her cover can spark energy in ongoing movements toward racial justice and progressive change.
"I think we have to choose not if we're going to be politically active, but how," she tells me. "How do you want to incorporate activism into your life? We have a lot of work to do, and we still need to be motivated to get out, get up, and get to work."