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Posted
March 28, 2016

Arise! Arise!

Singer Jean Rohe offers an alternative national anthem for the US

 Brooklyn-based musician Jean Rohe has been hailed as a “sure-footed young singer-songwriter” by the New York Times. Jean’s aspirational alternative national anthem for the United States,“National Anthem: Arise! Arise!”,  has now been performed by choirs and artists across the country and was published last year in the second edition of the popular songbook Rise Up Singing.

See her perform it here.

Her latest release Jean Rohe & the End of the World Show won three Independent Music Awards in 2014. (Hear “Nobody Told Me to Dance” from the album here, and read the lyrics below, which pay tribute to the Syrian singer Ibrahim Qashush who was killed in 2011 for his protest music.) She is now working on a new record with her band, which will be released later this year. 

 

Arise!  Arise!

See Jean Rohe perform her alternative national anthem here.

 

Nobody Told Me to Dance

This song was inspired by the words of a Syrian protester who was asked by a reporter why he and his fellow demonstrators were dancing in the street. “Nobody told me to dance,” he said, “it just started.” It also references a popular street protest song in Syrian cities, “Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar” (Come on, Bashar, Leave) which was attributed by some to a young man named Rahmani and is associated with Ibrahim Qashush, a cement layer who sang the song at protests. Ibrahim literally gave his voice for the revolution when he was found in a river with his throat slit and vocal cords removed. I dedicate this song to him and all the other brave Syrian demonstrators who face brutality with wit, creativity, and indefatigable spirit. — Jean Rohe

They told me what to think, they told me what to do
They told me who to scorn and who to bow down to
They told me who was righteous and who could never win
They told me my defiance was tantamount to sin
And they told me what to say and what to keep inside
They told me to be obedient; there was nothing I could hide
They told me they were everything, everything I’d ever need
And they told me what I’d find in store if I ever disagreed, but

 

Nobody told me to dance (it just started)
Open up the door into the streets (and the clouds parted)
Feel the pulse of freedom move our hands and feet (open hearted)
Nobody told me to dance, it just started.

 

Rahmani wrote the music, Ibrahim sang the song
‘Till they found him in the river with his vocal cords gone
But the fire was lit already in the hearts of everyone
And so we’ll keep on singing ’till our victory comes:
Yalla erhal ya Bashar, yalla erhal ya Bashar
Yalla erhal ya Bashar, yalla
Yalla erhal ya Bashar, yalla erhal ya Bashar
Yalla erhal ya Bashar, yalla

Nobody told me to sing (it just started)
Open up the door into the streets (and the clouds parted)
Feel the pulse of freedom move our hands and feet (open hearted)

Nobody told me to sing, it just started. Now we tell them what we want from every window, every door
Their lies and their barbarities aren’t secrets anymore
We write it and we stream it, show it in our videos
We paint it and we play it until the whole world knows
And they wonder how we do it, how we brave their guns and tanks
With our ragtag band of singers dancing dabke in our ranks
Well, if I meet a reporter from the Times or BBC
I’ll look him in the eye and I’ll explain so he can see that

Nobody told me to dance (it just started)
Open up the door into the streets (and the clouds parted)
Feel the pulse of freedom move our hands and feet (open hearted)

Nobody told me to dance, it just started.Nobody told me to sing (it just started)
Open up the door into the streets (and the clouds parted)
Feel the pulse of freedom move our hands and feet (open hearted)
Nobody told me to sing, it just started.

–Composed by Jean Rohe, with song fragment from Rahmani and Ibrahim Qashush