Earlier this year, Grammy Award-winning ensemble Sounds of Blackness collaborated with students from St. Paul's High School for the Recording Arts (HSRA) on "Royalty" — a positive, anthemic song for Black youth.
“So often the terms and phrases applied to African American youth are negative: at risk, inner city, thug, gangster,” Sounds of Blackness music director Gary Hines tells the Twin Cities Daily Planet. “They’re not the descendants of slaves, they’re the descendants of royalty —it’s such a radical notion to so many."
David "T.C." Ellis (founder of the HSRA) went to school with Prince, and even collaborated with the artist and the New Power Generation. He wants to continue some of the things that Prince did for music, education, and youth. “He was a friend of mine and was a lot of the inspiration for me to do what I’m doing now,” Ellis says.
Hines says, “One young lady, not one of the singers, saw the video and said, ‘Until I heard this song, I didn’t know I could be royalty. I thought you had to have blond hair and blue eyes. Nobody has ever called me that before ... We’re using ‘Royalty’ for the positive image of the young person so they can have a different perspective. We’re saying you are special, you do deserve that and, given the resources you need, you can be successful.”
The "Royalty" single is available on iTunes, and you can see the video below — directed by Dario Otero and produced by Gary Hines.