Ashes to Ashes

America has yet to heal from the trauma of its darkest era, and Winfred Rembert is living proof of that. Rembert, who lived on a plantation, joined the civil rights movement as a teen and was put to work on a chain gang, is a rare survivor of a lynching attempt. Decades later, he still carries the scars. “That lynching is on my back, and it’s dragging me down, even today,” he says. As he etches the history, bloodsoaked and cruel, into leatherwork, fellow artist Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker organizes a different kind of ceremony to search for healing. “It’s not just black history,” she says. “This is American history.”

I was brought on to this project through the referral of my friend, Barry Jenkins, and was so grateful to have met and collaborated with the incredible Taylor Rees. Taylor and her husband, Renan Ozturk are both astounding documentary filmmakers and environmentalists.

I worked closely with Nashville violinist, Shawn Williams to build complex and evolving string textures that served as the backbone for the emotional, yet delicate score. I then recorded strings and a Wurlitzer at Knobworld studios (see photos below). Vocals were done by Katya Richardson. Following these recording sessions, the score was mixed by the incredible Phil McGowan.

I cannot wait for the next collaboration with Taylor and Renan, and to continue my work in documentaries.

Score Mixer: Phil McGowan

Vocals: Katya Richardson

Violin / Viola Overdubs: Shawn Williams (

Cello Overdubs: Kevin Terry

Quartet Violin 1: Leonard Chong

Quartet Violin 2: Roberta Yee

Quartet Viola: Corinne Sobolewski

Additional String Arrangements: Shawn Williams