NINE BEATS Collective is a bunch of ragtag artists, musicians, thinkers, writers, troubadours and troublemakers. Our difference and diversity unite us in a joyful shared creativity, and humanity. We’re exploring and writing about the ancient Bible wisdom known as ‘the beatitudes’. We have become fast friends – not least because we see each other and get that we’re all mavericks in some way. We embrace our differences. But. Let’s not kid ourselves that there ain’t work to do. As the white, CIS-gendered (English) man who started up this whole NINE BEATS thing, I have to recognise that there are some jagged-edged, bitter truth pills I must swallow.

Right now, America is on fire. Our artistic collaborations as NINE BEATS feel prescient, raw, and vital. The soul-deep howls of pain, anguish, loss and injustice echo across the USA and the world. Is this moment the ‘enough!’ enough?

For it to be so, there is much work to be done. Even though we all – every human child – pushed and struggled our way into the world through the same alchemy of blood, pain, and joy and took our first, deep drink of the oxygen that filled our lungs and infused our airways, the colour of our skin meant that some would always breathe more freely than others, right up to the last gulp of sweet air. And right now, America is reeling to the refrain of three words: “I CAN’T BREATHE”. The most fundamental human instinct – to BREATHE – has become the focus of endless injustice and exhaustion.

And the truth is, I have to recognise that my inherent privilege of whiteness means I never really struggle for breath. I can breathe. I can breathe anywhere I want. I can breathe in a way that I never feel the tightness in my chest every time I go out, the ache as a momma, or daddy watches and prays as a son or daughter goes for a drive, goes to the store, gets pulled over. I never have to think about how my body language looks as I reach for my cell-phone or consider that carrying my own property could be viewed as stolen goods.  Never have to catch my breath at the overlooking, the casual racist remarking, the fragile cop-calling, name-calling, entitled-smug-look-down-the-nose power-abusing. Never have to catch my breath as wildly escalated violence is done to the black and brown bodies of my friends and neighbours. Never have to try to breathe despite the mass incarceration machinery, the social engineering, the demonization, the profiling, the systemic choking that is always there.  Hell, I can even breathe when I go for a jog.

I don’t know what it is to breathe when feeling tired at the unfathomed levels of my soul, or to feel the mental health impact, or the sheer relentless emotional tsunami of generational suppression. But I see those who do. And it is long past enough.

Racism needs to be called out and rooted out. Always. Everywhere.

And so, I need to do better – because the reality is, it needs calling and rooting out in me. I have to look harder in the mirror and reach further in. I have to never cease doing the work. And I don’t want to cease.

Oh, and fellow white people – just LISTEN to black voices and stories and experience. And learn. And love. Stand alongside, support, act – but not for your ego or show. It’s not about you! Weigh your words, speak when it is right and when you can do so intelligently and effectively.

Last thing we need is a lesson or some other sermon/when brothers and sisters are beaten like vermin/shot in the back, no conviction no justice emerging/hope seems so tired, deflated and mired/I can’t believe that this mission is dead/when I keep hearing nine beats drummin’ in my head…

Every white person needs to do the work, regardless of your ‘position’:  no one cares if you’re a ’Christian leader’ when there’s no soot on your clothes from the fire. If you say you will insist on justice, show us how. If you pontificate about Jesus, show people who don’t look like you that you understand he is not a white man who props up your systems and beliefs. If you blab about faith, make it count. No one experiences any version of Christian faith as real if your Bible ain’t charred at the edges.

And, this is all in me. Shameful. Oh, I rage, I am angry, I call for justice and for change, but you see, rage only matters if it does the work. Otherwise its self-pity and justification. Silence is complicity and it constricts another’s airways.

Stupidity and cold religion are not gospel. It’s a bad cover-band messing up magnificent, true gospel songs of freedom and passion and faith and struggle. Freedom IS oxygen.

Look, we could have asked one of our wonderful NINE BEATS collaborators to please consider writing something for this blog: but if I don’t have to dig in, then that’s always the easy way out isn’t it? It’s not up to POC to do my work for me. Rather, this needs to be written by a learner, a willing stagehand in a much bigger life drama. Sure, I’ll mess up. But I want to be accountable and changeable when I do. Let’s stand in solidarity, walk with humility, and do justice. Don’t talk about peace until you’re willing to do the justice walk.

Breathing is our first and last act on this planet. It is as elemental as that. God breathes the spirit: in-spire. Breath is divine. We should all be able to breathe with open airways. No-one, especially because of their skin colour, should be destined to breathe with the metaphorical and literal weight of the oppressor on their necks.

Is this moment the ‘enough!’ enough? Let’s use our collective breath to work and pray and hope for it to be so.

George Floyd’s breath was infused with the divine. So was the breath of Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Botham Jean, Ahmed Aubrey, Eric Garner, so many, many more – their divine right of breathing brutally stilled. O justice, you’re a long time comin’… how long, Lord, how long?

Blessed are the undead/Take heart, take heart/they did this to your heroes/who’s ghosts will not die…

Founder and Creative Director of NINE BEATS


Performed by Eric Leroy Wilson
Music: Tony Bean
Lyrics: Steve Bassett/Eric Leroy Wilson
Duration: 4 minutes 6 seconds

Time ticks the tempo and we provide the testament
Planet in the palm, it’s all of our possession
Needed bravery cut the artery bleed compassion set the precedent
Mold the mind to make a move to major mass confession
Far too many people living life with so much privilege
Moral obligation got ‘em looking like they’re savages, it’s sacrilege
Pen in the pocket, pull it out, re-write the narrative
Expose the shame, respect the rest and all that’s left is let the other live
Our mental state has gotten so congested
Things around us just gotta be contested
Our mind and thoughts just constantly infected
Before too long we gettin’ disrespected
Dismissed, disjointed, dislocated, disaffected
Contempt, confusion, common sense always rejected
Peace hard to come by everything always so hectic
This world is breaking and we’re standin’ there and lettin’ it

Racism, militarism, and mass commercialism
Sexism always turn into sectarian schisms
Preaching and teaching becomes commodified religion
Screaming for hours and ain’t said nothin’
Sure commitment turned into sure bluffin’
Slick sick politic, dirty game, clever clip
Hate my skin, blood and brick
Throw the mud and then it stick
Seeing thru your tired tricks
That twitter feed; its food’s poisonous
Delete your domain within 3 clicks
Too often words are worthless and found cheap
But others count for something, when they’re spoken let ‘em speak
Hear these words spoken on an ancient mount
Thunder clap, earth shatter, ground rumble hear the sound

There the poor are always blessed
Never shot before arrested
Not detested, not suspected
Found guilty facing federal correction
And the meek they inherit the entire earth
North, south, east, west, that’s blessed, not cursed
If these words become the catalyst of incarnation
Liberation for our spiritual incarceration
Then nine beats to a bar is the rhythm of regeneration
Re-creation, right now in this generation

Last thing we need is a lesson or some other sermon
When brothers and sisters are beaten like vermin
Shot in the back no conviction no justice emergin’
Hope seems so tired, deflated and mired
I can’t believe that this mission is dead
When I keep hearin’ nine beats drummin’ in my head

Spare me all your kind words and your pleasantries
Don’t expect my gratitude, a grin, or my sympathy
Tired of hearing the same song, same platitudes
Can’t recognize your simplistic self-centered attitudes
That “we’re all screwed attitude”
I long for that fully “finally free” attitude
That “you and me” attitude
A “love is winning, even when you can’t see it” attitude
That “fly to the sky reaching all and any altitude”
The 9 beats to a bar type attitude
That “we can find it, we can free it, we can be” attitude

Last thing we need is a lesson or some other sermon
When brothers and sisters are beaten like vermin
Shot in the back no conviction no justice emergin’
Hope seems so tired, deflated and mired
I can’t believe that this mission is dead
When I keep hearin’ nine beats drummin’ in my head
I keep hearin’ nine beats drummin’ in my head
I keep hearin’ nine beats drummin’ in my head
I keep hearin’ nine beats drummin’ in my head


If you like the sound of NINE BEATS Collective, join the movement at and

Please check out the work of Rozella White, Eric Wilson, Christine Suh, Jason Chesnut, Nancy Frausto, and many more. Article image photographed by Mike Von.

We’re an international collective from USA, UK, Denmark, Australia & Uganda. We have a double album out on all platforms & double vinyl, Nine beats to the bar

Critics really like it, maybe you will too?

“A cultural melting pot of soul, RnB, rock, pop, poetry, jazz, funk, classical and more”  – Vents Magazine

“Beautiful, hypnotic, and above all compelling” –  Indie Music Mag

“If you can’t find something you enjoy in here, you’re not listening” – Real Music Network

“An immersive and exquisite listening experience; 10/10” – Cross Rhythms