Like many, Davóne Tines said he has spent the past few months feeling both hopeless and sad as he listened to news of Black people being killed at the hands of police.
The devastation hit especially hard as he learned more about Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot multiple times in March by police forcing their way into her apartment while executing a no-knock warrant. Crowds gathered for months in Louisville to call for the arrests of the three officers involved.
The Kentucky Attorney General announced last week that no officers are being charged directly in her murder.
“It was like the wound was ripped open afresh, and there was just a hole,” Tines told CNN of Taylor’s death. “It just kind of reified everything.”
So the 33-year-old decided to express those feelings the best way he knew how: His art. The bass-baritone opera singer created “VIGIL” — a video with original music dedicated to the memory of Taylor.
With the project, Tines said he hopes to shed light on racial injustice and encourage people to take action.
“I wanted this video to be very, very intentional,” he said. “This is a tragedy of hers (Taylor), and you feel something about it, so you should do something about it.”
The video starts out with the sound of a Tibetan prayer bell over a sea of white noise. The bell, Tines explained, works to grab people’s attention. The white noise, on the other hand, serves a different purpose.
“The recording of white noise has pretty literal connotations,” he said. “Kind of aestheticizing the idea of the majority — the structural and systemic racism that we live within– being a lot of complications of whiteness, but also the white noise of, you know, protests and shouts and disunity.”
Breaking the cycle of the white noise is a song created by Tines in collaboration with composers Igée Dieudonné and Matthew Aucoin.
“Where there is darkness, we’ll bring light,” Tines sings. “Where there is darkness, we’ll bring light. Where there is darkness, we will bring the light. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.”
Throughout the video, there are slides that ask the viewer to tune into their senses — a process Tines said he uses to get ready for a performance. The goal is to make the viewer feel more calm and present, he said.
The video also pays tribute to others who were impacted by police brutality, listing their names on a slide.
The film ends on a slide that provides instructions for people to translate their emotions into action.
“You know, I don’t think at this point in our society, it’s OK for art to just open up wounds and not direct towards healing,” Tines said. “So the effort to direct towards healing is to literally direct to a set of instructions and say notice what you’re feeling, try to understand the positive feelings, and look for people and organizations.”
“VIGIL” will premiere on the Lincoln Center’s Facebook page on September 30, and will also be streamed on the Center’s YouTube channel.
On October 3, Tines will perform with the Louisville Orchestra, and the concert will be live streamed for a virtual audience.