JT Video Premiere: “Thoughts and Prayers” by Ann Hampton Callaway

The singer's protest against gun violence—and politicians' responses to it—features many members of the jazz community

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Ann Hampton Callaway (photo courtesy of the artist)

JazzTimes is honored to premiere the video for singer Ann Hampton Callaway’s “Thoughts and Prayers.”

The song, which was written by Callaway, does not appear on her latest album, the recently released Jazz Goes to the Movies (a review of which will soon be appearing on JazzTimes.com). Instead, it’s a one-off single inspired by recent events. As Callaway comments:

“I started writing ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ the night I opened at Birdland last year with my saxophonist Jimmy Greene, who had lost his beloved daughter Ana at the age of six at the Sandy Hook shooting. He told me that he didn’t think there would ever be gun control in this country because of the overwhelming power of the NRA. Knowing the grief that he and his wife Nelba had suffered, I went to my dressing room and started penning the lyrics. Fast forward to the Parkland shooting. I was in Florida the day it happened and so upset by the loss and the callous response of politicians who were unwilling to take any action that I finally finished the song.

“Ever since I was five and suffered the shock of having our president assassinated, I have had a strong sense of mission about finding ways to reduce the violence in our country. When CBS came to our grade school after Kennedy was shot, they interviewed me and asked me what I thought should be done about it. I thought about it and said, ‘Ban bullets.’

“It is my hope that people will hear this song and vote according to conscience in this extremely important midterm election. I would love to see a reverse grading system for politicians. Instead of succumbing to the grading system of politicians bought by the NRA, if we the people graded politicians on their willingness to create sensible gun legislation that would protect children and all the citizens of America, we could make historic progress in making our country a safer, saner, and more peaceful nation.

“I am grateful to all the wonderful people who took time out of their busy lives to contribute videos and photographs for the music video I did with my director, Steven Lippman, AKA FLIP. Unfortunately, he was too weak and ill to finish the video when we hoped to release it, right after the Parkland shooting. He sent me a finished copy of the video not long before he passed away. It’s my hope that this video is a small way of honoring Steven’s life. He, too, was very committed to the cause of finding ways to making our schools and our towns safer from gun violence. I hope that this song helps to wake people up to take action. If not now, when?”

Many members of the jazz community appear in the video, including Cyrille Aimée, Shelly Berg, John diMartino, Jon Faddis, Lisa Fischer, Grace Kelly, Roseanna Vitro, and Chris Wood, along with a wide variety of stage and screen entertainers.