Courageous Conversations: Local bluesman asks ‘America, how do you feel today?’

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — In these challenging times, WAVY-TV 10 remains dedicated to bringing you the information you need to sort through the rapidly changing headlines.  

In another installment of Courageous Conversations, local Bluesman Bobby Blackhat Walters poses an introspective question:  America, How Great Do You Feel Today?

In a recent interview with WAVY TV-10 Walters, of Newport News, explained how he was inspired to write the song.

“A good friend of mine, Evelyn Thomas, sent me a poem that she wrote and the title was ‘America How Great Do You Feel Today?’ And that was the inspiration that I needed to get the right words that I wanted to put across — so I took her title and I started writing and it just the words just flowed — It just flowed,” he said.

Walters received the poem on June 2, eight days after George Floyd was killed at the hands of four Minneapolis Police officers. They were fired, arrested and charged with murder after the senior officer in the scene, Derek Chauvin, used his knee to choke Floyd.

On June 3, Walters wrote and recorded the song.

“I had so much emotion built up in it. If you listen to it, you are going to hear breaks in my voice that’s not theatrics — that’s just me breaking down in the song in trying to hold it together because I literally shed tears while I was recording it,” said Walters.

Walters remembers the turbulent times of he 1960s and says today’s tribulations leave him weary.

“I’m just exhausted. How many times, how many people, how many lives be destroyed, families torn apart for something like this? That’s what I wanted to convey [in the song]. That exhaustion that pure exhaustion.”

Walters was asked whether the title of the song is a reference to the president’s slogan, Make America Great Again, often abbreviated as MAGA.

“Well we’ve heard that slogan over and over again and I tell people this: you listen to the song and you make your judgment as to what it refers to and what you feel and ask yourself do you feel great today? Because I don’t.”

“When was it great for everyone? That’s my goal, because when it can be great for everyone not just for folks at the top — not just for those who are rich — that’s when we can say it’s great for everyone. You make your judgment call. You call it the way you see it,” said Walters.

The bluesman says his next song may take on the issue of voter suppression.

Listen to “America How Great Do You Feel Today” on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/__MQVoHnQ2M


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