Woke Up From A Dream & Emperor: Little Boots
Release date: September 11, 2020
New Digital-only single from Cindy Lee Berryhill.
New York antifolk founder and singer-songwriter, reveals a longstanding family secret in new song that touches on the zeitgeist of white entitled culture and reveals how some white families are not all they appear to be and that some are more akin to a David Duke nightmare.
When Berryhill was in her 20s, during time spent between NYC and her longtime home of San Diego, writing songs for what would be her debut album Who’s Gonna Save the World (Rhino 1987), she had an extraordinarily memorable dream.
She tells it best:
“Many years ago I had an extraordinarily memorable dream. In the dream I was a retail clerk at Macy’s hoping for a promotion. I mentioned my intention to my friends and coworkers looking for some support. Much to my surprise they told me they didn’t think a promotion was likely to happen.
Because of the color of my skin.
But I was white with light hair like them, what was the problem?
They led me to a mirror and I saw that I was now a black girl.
I burst into tears knowing my chances at jobs and promotions had just drastically diminished.
And then I woke up.
A few years ago I took a popular DNA test that informs you of your likely ancestry and some medical proclivities. A surprise was revealed when I received the results. I was part sub-Saharan African. Not that 6% sub-Saharan African next to my 94% European ancestry meant very much on the pie chart, but what it did do was expose a hidden history of my grandmother Fay and where she’d come from. If I was 6%, then my father was approximately 12% and my grandma roughly 24%.
Through the U.S. census I found out that grandma Fay Grant (Berryhill by marriage) and her brother, mother and father had all identified as black on the 1900 census. Some time before 1910 the family of four left their home and large extended black family in Charleston, South Carolina, and moved to Los Angeles, California. Then on the 1910 census the family now identified as white. This passing as white and my grandma’s to-the death-secret, is her story.
My story is one of being a white girl in a white man’s world, who writes songs.
And so I introduce you to my new song, “Woke Up From A Dream.”
Indeed, I did wake up to find that the black girl in the mirror was me, or at least some several generations back, 6% me.
With some time, and a little money, I hope to research more of my grandmothers story. And get a little closer to why a family would leave all they knew and change their identity in a new land.
As a young songwriter, playing guitar in the gold rush hills above Oroville, California, I penned my first songs at age 11. The first was a ballad of 12 verses outlining the extinction of the dinosaurs and possible reasons. The second was a song of the volcanic Vesuvian destruction of Pompeii. I seemed to like my tragi-ballads. With that, I bring you “Emperor: Little Boots.” A not-so-tall tale, a rise-and-fall, of an authoritarian, sociopathic, emperor-crow.“
Woke Up From A Dream Emperor: Little Boots