Justice Music: Repentance

The Second Movement from Tyrone Birkett’s Ashes, Star(Dust), Ashe.
Please welcome Tyrone Birkett as a new, regular writer on the Justice Blog!

3 Movements

(Overture) Ashes, Star(Dust), Ase – fascination with the commonality of us all being made from Star(dust) as science has given us, “dust to dust” created by God. Universal community. Small bits or particles (people) come together. How we exist together, live or perish together (as fools)

As the first piece composed it contains the motif from which the whole piece is developed. In the intro this theme is exploded in smaller pieces to characterize the cosmic dispersion of “Star(Dust)”, the elements of what we all are made. These small melodic fragments are then joined together making up the theme. Lyrics and spoken word expounding on our commonality as creations of God enter in, followed by jazz improvisation, free personal expressions. Then a recapitulation of the theme for the ending.


Is It a Fast?/Repentance

Seeking repentance for how we have violated the commands of Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves. Echoing Isaiah in interrogating what constitutes a fast when people are oppressed and hungry.

Isaiah 58:5-7 says, “Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?” Dark church modes are employed to invoke soberness with a stark saxophone solo. Melody is again a transformation of the main theme, stretched out to reinforce the character of a dirge. The lyrics translate Isaiah’s Fast into a contemporary statement roughly stated as The Penitential Act in the Order of Mass. Lyrics then acknowledge the need for repentance as our acts are in conflict with the commands of Christ, namely what is outlined in the Sermon on the Mount. A piano improvisation as a Selah moment and the song ends in repentance.


Pro-Life? – The sanctity of life from the womb to the grave. Here we care for not just the birth of a child but are directed   to seek a life of Shalom for all of us. Nothing missing, nothing broken. Celebrating the beauty of human life and the resurrected life of Christ we obtain redemption of our sins against God and humanity. This piece was composed in triple meter African feel as the “Ase’, the “so let it be” affirmation, and to bring out the celebratory feel, beginning with an improvised saxophone solo. The lyrics continue in those affirmations of God’s creation in contrast to apathy and hate in today’s society. Melody is a transformation of the main theme heard in the overture. Spoken word declares the power of the resurrected Christ and how this redeeming grace is the hope for mankind. The “Amen” section emerges as a gospel shout with a rousing sax solo bringing “church”. The chorus is stated again for the ending.

Tyrone Birkett is a saxophonist, composer, producer partnering art and social consciousness as an “artist for humanity”. Focused on creating music that affirms the good and the beautiful, in spite of what we see in our world. As the conceptualist, composer and musical director of the band Tyrone Birkett | Emancipation, he has created Postmodern Spirituals, a project that synthesizes jazz language, black church music, soul music & Negro spirituals. Tyrone has brought curative and empowering art to The Apollo Theater, WNYC/Greene Space, Blue Note Jazz Club, Lehman and York College Performing Art Centers. He has also been awarded grants & commissions from the Puffin Foundation, Drew University, Bronx Council of the Arts and Flushing Town Hall.