TVD Premiere: Kate Tucker, “In Your Arms” Single and its Virtual Reality Experience

PHOTO: JESSIE ENGLISH | For the first single from her upcoming album, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Kate Tucker goes both back in time and forward.

In the unexpectedly upbeat “In Your Arms,” which we’re proud to debut today at The Vinyl District with its free download below, Tucker and her co-writer Kenny Childers take inspiration from one of the deadliest and suppressed chapters in American history, the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots. What ended with the death of 300 people, the burning destruction of more than 35 blocks of the wealthiest black community in the nation, and more than 6,000 African-Americans jailed for more than eight days, was left out of history books and not discussed by survivors.

It was only at the 75th anniversary of the event that a state commission was formed to study it; its report didn’t come out until 2001, concluding that the city had conspired with a white mob against the black community, and that reparations for the survivors and their descendants were recommended.

As huge as the event became, it all began with a Memorial Day elevator ride that involved a 19-year-old shoeshine and a 17-year-old female elevator operator. The interaction between them was never determined. “We were in this phase where we were mining stories from 20th century American history that had been for various reasons, obscured,” Tucker says. “We tried to write within the narrative of what we were discovering. What would it have been like to have been the girl or the guy in the elevator in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 31, 1921?”

And so her song begins: “Honey, what’s come between us / Buildings burning down / That thing in the elevator / I just wanted out.” “These stories are part of us whether we know them or not, and reconciling with the mountain of hurt we’ve inflicted and endured as a nation is the only way we can move toward healing,” Tucker says. “Music is a powerful healing force, and it’s the best way I know to look anything straight in the eye, especially tragedy. There’s a practical sadness to being American.”

Melancholy and remembrance wash over the new album Practical Sadness, due out next year from the singer, who also heads Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden and is half of the pop duo Little Reader. Practical Sadness was written and recorded by Tucker in the year following her mother’s unexpected death. In that sense, the chorus of the new single, also harken back to that connection: “I can feel you breathing / I don’t feel the end / in your arms.”

Tucker has been nothing if not ambitious in her career. Her album with the Sons of Sweden, The Shape and the Sound, was recorded and released on vinyl with 13 music videos and 3 short films, and was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign—a process that will be explored in an upcoming documentary, also due out next year.

The thing that’s really futuristic about “In Your Arms,” is that it comes with a not just a video, but one in virtual reality, something still quite new in that world. The VR experience was created in collaboration with Ben Scheer, whose company Scheerio means to simplify VR, making it accessible for all.

Says Scheer: “What if you heard a song and you could build the world that you see when you hear it and share it with your friends. I built the world that I thought of when I listened to ‘In Your Arms.’ I tried to keep it minimal enough to be functional. If you try to put too much in the world, sometimes it just shuts down.” In it, the words of the song fly by, as one can turn one’s head to see them go.

Yet it’s not the only video planned for “In Your Arms”—the non-VR one will have footage from the 1944 documentary, The Negro Soldier, produced by Frank Capra.

Tucker’s Practical Sadness is due out in winter 2018 on Red Valise Recordings.

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