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The Pulse: Michela Marino Lerman and Russell Hall on a Crucial Election, and "Lift Every Vote"


Russell Hall is a graduate of Julliard, and an acclaimed bassist and activist from Kingston, Jamaica. Although he has yet to assume citizenship in the United States, he feels there is so much at stake in this year's election.

"Part of what is so important about this election,” he says, “is the fact that there's so many of your friends that don't have the privilege of voting. So, you're not just voting for yourself but for [other] people. It only takes one vote to carry seven people that come from different countries."

Michela Marino Lerman has always been an artist, educator, and activist whose creative choices are led by social consciousness. A tap dancer trained under the tutelage of Buster Brown, Gregory Hines, Leroy Myers and Marion Coles, she has been groomed to connect the history of the artform. Lerman understands that, not much unlike the origin of tap, the story of this nation is inextricable from the oppression of Blacks and minorities. This is what motivates her to use her platform to encourage the community to cast their ballot — for the protection and upliftment of vulnerable populations and people of color. 

On this special edition of The Pulse, Michela Marino Lerman and Russell Hall talk about the imperative nature of this election and their work with The Blacksmiths, the socially conscious musical collaborative that helped to inspire a new grassroots get-out-the-vote campaign.

Lift Every Vote (LEV) is a grassroots, nationwide challenge created by New York musicians and advocates for the arts to energize and mobilize the community to exercise their right to vote. The campaign invites musicians, noisemakers, performers, and creatives both professional and amateur to share performances now through Election Day. Launched on Oct. 3, in less than a month it has garnered support from artists like Robert Glasper, Lizzo, Tank and the Bangas, Brandee Younger, Keyon Harrold, Madison McFerrin, and many others.

The steps to join the challenge are simple:

PLAN a performance around sunset: Get your instrument, your band, your poem, your dance, your creativity READY!

PICK your location: Outdoors is best -- but remember, mask-up and social distance; choose anywhere you feel comfortable.

PERFORM: Play as if our lives depend on it!

MOBILIZE: Encourage your audience to plan their vote.

NOMINATE: Share your performance using #lifteveryvote. Tag your peers, friends, noise makers to do the same - and keep the challenge moving!

Keanna Faircloth is a Washington, DC native and comes to WBGO getting her start on-air at WPFW 89.3 FM in 2003, most recently as the host of Late Night Jazz: The Continuum Experience. She is a graduate of Howard University having majored in Music History with a minor in Classical Piano. Keanna has written for NPR Music, and worked for Radio One as an on-air personality, producer and voice-over talent. She is also the creator and host of Artimacy Podcast, where she has interviewed artists like Wynton Marsalis, Matthew Whitaker, Jonathan Butler, and Dionne Warwick. As a result, she was recognized by Radio Ink Magazine as a 2019 African American leader in radio.