Edited Transcript of Remarks by Everett Suttle to 9/22 IPC Meeting
Sept. 24—Edited transcript of remarks by tenor Evertt Suttle to the Friday, Sept. 22 meeting of the International Peace Coalition.
I have to say I learned something very, very profound yesterday, and that was the true power of music. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into and Indira and I were just following Dennis Speed’s lead. And the madness that was going on all around, it was a little unnerving. But I remember the story of Roland Hayes when he went through something similar—when he made his debut in Berlin and all the Nazis and the racial slurs that were thrown at him when he entered—and he just got very quiet; and that’s what I did before I sang. I closed my eyes and got very quiet, until I got a bit of silence, and then I sang. But I was told later I was in a zone that was the only really peaceful moment of the entire time we were there—was when we were singing. And so that’s the key to our future, our salvation; and that is the power of music.
And I was told that the neo-Nazi Ukrainians even applauded after me; I wasn’t aware of that. They were behind me, so I was looking in the opposite direction. But I think if you can calm down people—we don’t know what these people have gone through, but I just know that there was a great deal of anger. They were very aggressive; the most aggressive group there, I thought. And they were right next to us. They were the smallest group in numbers, as well, if you remember.
And then afterwards as we were leaving—I was leaving with Indira and Dennis and Lynne Speed and Alvin—… we stopped at a restaurant on the way, and as I went into the restaurant I went downstairs and one of them [Ukrainians] came into the bathroom. I remember that he had a ponytail; he was one of the most vocal ones that were out there. And I looked at him and I got very quiet, and he was like “Oh, you’re the singer, right?” And I said “Yes.” He said “Great job, great job; it was a great job. I really enjoyed it.”
So we calmed down that whole perception of, and brought peace to, the International Peace Day, if only for a small amount of time. So I think that was the most important aspect of being there yesterday. And I think you would have had to be there, to sense that unrest. It was like cacophony. Am I correct in that? And the power of an unamplified voice…. I decided not to use a microphone; I didn’t think I needed it. And I think that was very powerful. Dennis said that was the most powerful aspect, because it was only the voice not going through any machines, not going through any amplification—everybody else was amplified. So that’s something very powerful as well I think.
Anastasia: I think so too. You could really hear what your intention was in your voice.
Everett: And you could feel what the intention was, too. But I’m just glad I participated. As I said, I didn’t know what we were getting into—Indira was very unnerved. She texted me later as we got home. She was like, “Did we just sing in a war?” I said “Exactly.” So I thank all of you for letting me be a part of that. And I think we really did something very, very profound yesterday; very, very important: And that’s bringing peace through music. To put it on the lowest common denominator: We made peace through music.