I told my friend Nita I was doing an album of hymns and spirituals and she told me I absolutely had to cover “Eyes on the Prize.” She knew I was in a season of transition and recovery and felt it could be powerful. I didn’t feel qualified, especially after listening to Mavis Staples’ interpretation and watching the video of footage from the civil rights movement. It was so raw, so powerful, so emotional, and I wasn’t sure I could take it on or, honestly, that I should.
But I eventually decided I could find my own interpretation of the song in channeling my own experiences with suffering and perseverance and I performed this song one thousand percent from my heart. I had also recently taken my children to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and found myself profoundly impacted by the stories of courage and nonviolence in the face of incredible violence. I saw people living out Jesus’ teachings in radical ways that defy logic. The song became even more moving and I wanted to honor that legacy as well as find my own place in the narrative of perseverance.