Instead of focusing on basketball this week, this will be a sharing of a March of growth and learning through music. Being that it has been Madness for most of the month, this New Orleans-based story begins in a bar.

It was daytime when I went wandering into the tucked away tavern that definitely has stayed open way too late some nights and I do appreciate it. The friendly face at the bar had few patrons so we sparked a chat which quickly turned to music, live performances coming back, and the anxiety of it all. Then she mentioned having done a Valentine’s Day Livestream for Lift Louisiana. Being an inquisitive sort that needed a second drink and a story to marinate on, I asked: “What’s that?”

Lift Louisiana seeks to “educate, advocate, and litigate for policy changes needed to improve the health and wellbeing of Louisiana’s women, their families, and their communities.” The website makes it clear. “We exist within an ecosystem of reproductive health, rights, and justice, and we support reciprocal, accountable relationships to shift power and improve the quality of life for women in Louisiana, their families, and their communities. We believe in harnessing our ideals of creating a just world and commit ourselves to analyze how power can be shifted to increase equity for all.”

Without being able to gather in larger groups, Lift Louisiana has been using livestreamed sets to enable and empower the musicians and spread the message of making the world a better place. We all need new music. It lifts the spirit to hear a new take on an old classic. Paris Achenbach, Micah McKee, and Ian Littleworth have played the last three virtual benefit concerts. Instead of watching reruns while waiting for March Madness games, I clicked play and learned a lot by listening to what was said between songs as much as I heard the beauty in the notes being played/sung.

Having made my way back to the bar after a few days away, having heard these livestreams, I got a drink and I got to thinking. I was thinking back on an Unfiltered Dunks podcast called ‘Dodson and Grubb Do Not Stick to Sports.’ You could hear the emotion in the conversation on both sides. Remembering something he said, and linking it to the Lift Louisiana livestreams, I gained a wholly new and exponentially greater understanding for “Lift Every Voice And Sing” – The Black National Anthem.

This is neither the time nor place to discuss the merits of any ‘canceling’ of the Star-Spangled Banner. Progress isn’t made in a comfort zone, the colonies wanted to be free of the King’s oppression, and battles had to be fought. It is a violent song.

“Lift Every Voice And Sing” is the peaceful and positive all-inclusive national anthem.

Lift. Every Voice. And Sing.

So I lifted my drink with a new understanding of what the song meant and what I can do to help make it easier for organizations like Lift Louisiana. The site has too many helpful links to list. Just go check it out while listening to a new artist.