A Conversation with "Blue White and Red" Stars Nina Kennedy and Nejma Nefertiti
Juneteenth 2020 marked the world premiere of a music video for the single "Blue White and Red" starring lyricist/rapper Nejma Nefertiti and pianist Nina Kennedy. An INFEMNITY Production, the video was filmed and edited by April Gibson.
INFEMNITY: Tell us how "Blue White and Red" happened.
Nina Kennedy: The first step was that April's nephew Mike Gutta [owner of Ryan Premier1989 LLC] sent us some beats to choose from. I listened to them and thought about which pieces in my classical repertoire would fit well around the beat. I decided on the opening of the Grieg Concerto since the mood is a bit defiant yet melancholic. I knew I'd have to slow it down for a track that kids could dance to, so I recorded the solo over Mike's beats. Then April put together a rough cut audio recording. She had the idea to aim for a Juneteenth launch, so we asked Nejma to write lyrics that would be appropriate for Juneteenth. We sent her what we had and she listened to it over and over while writing her text.
INFEMNITY: And this was all happening online?
Nina: Yes. We were all emailing each other. We didn't get together until Nejma had us over and performed the rap for us. We immediately high-fived each other because we knew we had a hit.
We asked Nejma for a few words on the project. Here is her statement:
Nejma Nefertiti: My lyrics for “Blue, White, and Red” were inspired by the systemic racism, oppression, and exploitation, of Black and Brown people in the United States.
First Nation people were raped, murdered, and displaced, and Black people were brought here as slaves under the most cruel and horrific conditions, to build on this stolen land, also raped and murdered. Furthermore, our educational system teaches us lies and false history, and is an ally of the military and prison industrial complexes, which are in alignment with the pharmaceutical industry and the control of food.
So what I’m saying is that my lyrics were inspired by the deep rooted layers of corruption in this country. It is built off the blood of the same people that are still being brutalized and until there is justice, there will be no peace. We will protest and tear this world apart for decades to come, if the earth lives that long, because things need to disruptively change. It’s gone on far too long. Enough is enough!
We honored some of our revolutionary brothers, sisters, and ancestors as well, which was really important to me when writing this. We must remember not to forget.
Also that solidarity, not just physically, but economically and consciously, along with awareness, inspiration, knowledge, and practice, will rise up the nation. One that is self determined and independent of a system that can never be fixed and will never be for us. It’s not designed that way. It’s about building something else. We must create our own, and connect with like minded individuals who are doing the same. Unlike capitalism, this is what wealth is to us.
Finally, I intentionally strive to use my platform as a tool of liberation and freedom, especially mentally, and I would hope that my lyrics reflect that.
Nina's interview continued...
INFEMNITY: So tell us about the actual recording.
Nina: We went to Astoria Soundworks in Queens to make the recording. Kamilo Kratc was our audio engineer. April brought her film equipment into the studio so she could get the footage that you see in the video. Nejma recorded her part in her own studio. Then we asked Brenda Alderman (aka B.Love) to pull everything together.
INFEMNITY: And the audio recording premiered on Juneteenth of last year.
Nina: That's right. April lost her dad last year so she was in Louisiana when we were in the throes of finalizing the audio recording. She went to Greg Dukes' Studio in Baton Rouge to have it mastered.
Then April asked Nejma and me to come into the TV studio at MNN to film us for the video. FYI - she's the award-winning producer of The Noshing with Nina Show. So she filmed us in front of a green screen and pulled up the other images to work them into the video.
Nejma's words are really powerful. And I wanted young people to have the experience of that tug at your heartstrings that classical music can bring. It is my hope that people who haven't really listened to classical music will be inspired to listen to the entire concerto. It's really an impressive video. I'm very proud of it.
As she should be. "Blue White and Red" received over 5,000 views on the first day, and has reached a global audience. Enjoy the video below!