Ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's swearing-in for his second term on Monday, Israeli composer Gilad Heseg created a new musical version of one of Obama's favorite poems.
"Songs for the People," a poem by African-American poet Francis E.W. Harper, is one of Obama's favorites. Heseg composed a musical version featuring singers Ruti Navon and Adi Cohen. Heseg played the music, accompanied by the Efroni Choir, under the direction of Maya Shavit.
The song was recorded over the weekend and officially presented to U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. The latter thanked the musicians for their efforts and promised to pass the song on to Obama.
"I composed the song to strengthen the special bond between the two peoples [Americans and Israelis] and express our gratitude and appreciation to the American people, who have stood by us for so many years,” Heseg said on Saturday
“Harper is one of the most loved and respected poets in the U.S. She lived during the time of slavery in the 19th century and is a symbol of the principles of freedom, equality and democracy.
"In light of changes in our region, I have heard people around me many times saying we must thank the U.S. for being on our side. I feel that we haven't really said thank you, and I don't mean in the political sphere. The connection between the desire to say thank you, Harper's poem and Obama's second inauguration led me to this initiative. We believe that it can contribute to the relationship between our two peoples. The lyrics speak for themselves."
The lyrics of Harper's poem can be viewed here.