May 2007 REVIEW:
The cover notes for Leigh Herrick's twenty-track album of music, spoken word, and sung poetry, Just War, include the statement:
The attacks that occurred in the United States on 9/11/2001 did so just 19 days before my departure to Vermont. This had a grave affect on the course of my work, not altering it, but deepening it, catapulting me into what I believe is a most necessary look at what it means to be living as a citizen of conscience on Earth and in this beautiful country, America.
The artist's statement illustrates how Just War is not simple reactionary philosophy; neither anti-Muslim jingoism nor self-hating anti-Americanism, but a complex reaction to strange times. In pursuit of the necessary complexity, Herrick played the conga, large and medium tars, kanjira, tambourine, riq, guitar, cowbell, shekere, uyot hand rattle, tuning fork, telephone and a coconut shaker with coco beads, layering them with several vocal styles. The whole thing is done in a stripped-down production that makes you feel as if you're in a room surrounded by active, energetic musicians and singers.
We're very proud to present her tracks "In Consequential Ballad," a huge and beautiful overview of changing U.S. politics, along with the instrumental "Don't Fence Me In." But if you restrict yourself to these tracks, you might come away with the mistaken impression that Herrick's statements are restricted to Americana. There's a true global view in Just War, based on absolute faith in what happens in one part of the world effects the whole world. The interconnectedness of our species is explored largely through music, but also through her lyric poetry, with tracks such as "Congo Congo" and the "Passover 2002" medley. So after you're finished here, be sure to check out her tracks at CDBaby or iTunes. —Jonathan Penton, Unlikely Stories
Leigh Herrick is a US poet recognized at both the local and national level who is quickly gaining international attention. She is the recipient of various poetry awards and fellowships and has published throughout North America and Cyberspace. Her most recent poems, essays or music have appeared in print or online at Kalliope, Margie, Howling Dog Press, and Unlikely Stories. Herrick is also a hand drummer and has trained intensively with Layne Redmond in frame drumming and in Minneapolis with local drummers Chico Perez and Wallace Hill in Afro-Cuban drumming traditions.
A multi-disciplinary artist, Herrick's JUST WAR album expresses the fusion of musicianship with original poetry. Much of the mix is underscored with traditional frame drumming and other percussion as Herrick reflects on the intersections of politics and policy through free and formal aspects of verse.
JUST WAR'S blending of poetry within the rhythmic framework of drumming arouses consciousness and changes energy.
Through the Many Unnamed Herrick calls to that spirit of wisdom that would teach how to disestablish the inhumane, knowing what language and music can accomplish, crossing borders and the limits of space and time.
I loved your CD...these poems, just as I remembered so many years ago, are not only passionate, irreverent, poignant, they are above all, very beautiful.
You have managed to voice the saddest facts with words that also celebrate the English language and the intention to instill and impregnate something nondescript in the hearts and memory of the reader and/or listener.
I have used them to teach a Colombian friend to pronounce English without the strong regional accent of the Medellin city.
She was so taken by your poems that she was able to relax and pronounce with much more feelings than before. I guess that’s one important purpose of a poem, to affect the communication receptors of the listener/reader to such an extent that she can strengthen the relationship between herself and her own ability to express herself and thus, infect others with the same inspiration.
This is a matter of ultimate communication.
Thanks for all this.
-Christina Chow, Visual Artist, New York