“People Have The Power” still holds true

When singer, songwriter, poet, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and proclaimed Godmother of Punk, Patti Smith and her late husband, noted guitarist of influential rock group the MC5, Fred “Sonic” Smith wrote the now iconic track, “People Have The Power,” they likely didn’t know that it would ultimately resonate with so many people. They didn’t know that it would be employed as the anthem for a variety of protests and causes around the world many years later. But it has. For an interview she did with music and culture platform, NME, Smith confirms, “I’ve seen people. I’ve walked in marches all over the world where people spontaneously started singing it, you know, whether it’s been in Paris or with the Palestinians or, you know, in Spain or New York City, Washington D.C.”  But although they didn’t know that would be the case it was indeed their hope that it would inspire people in that way. In that same interview she confirms, “What we wanted to do was remind the listener of their individual power, but also of the collective power of the people, how we can do anything.” It was, in particular, the desire of her husband who actually encouraged the song by sharing the title idea and concept with Patti, urging her to write the lyrics. He wrote the music and she did indeed write the words. Fred Smith unfortunately didn’t get to see the impact the song would in fact make, but Patti affectionately adds in that talk, “It’s so moving for me to see his dream realized.”

Needless to say, during these pivotal and transformative times the significance of the song, its message and purpose were also not lost on many including accomplished singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer, Tomás Doncker.  Doncker, who is a past featured artist HERE, was so inspired by it that he set out working on a cover of the timeless track. He got part of the way through when he ran into a creative impasse that would require change to it that he respected the lauded song too much to just take license to do. So he halted work on it.  But often when things are cosmically ordained, paths to their completion are made clear. A chance introduction to Patti Smith’s daughter, musician Jesse Smith, in of all places, a neighborhood pharmacy Doncker was at picking up a few things before heading off to Finland for some work, led to a surprise FaceTime talk with the legend herself, right there in the store. Doncker, who they were familiar with and admired his work, explained his dilemma to Patti and to his great surprise, she gave her blessing to approach covering the song however he decided. And indeed he did deliver a hip, soulful and energetic rendition that doesn’t disappoint. The Smith family clearly agreed because a cover of the song with Doncker, Jesse Smith and her brother, musician Jackson Smith and introduced by their mom, Patti that was recorded and filmed at Electric Lady Studios will be featured as part of the A VIRTUAL FESTIVAL FOR RESTORATION AND RECOVERY happening this Friday, June 4, 2021 at 3pm EST, in honor of World Environment Day, which is officially on June 5th.

You see, needless to say, the song’s impact and intent was not lost on Patti and Fred’s kids, Jackson and Jesse Smith either.  In particular daughter, Jesse, who with cellist, Rebecca Foon and no doubt in the spirit of the song, founded in 2014, Pathway to Paris. As described in their mission statement, Pathway to Paris, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to turning the Paris Agreement into reality through finding and offering innovative and ambitious solutions for combating global climate change. The organization brings together musicians, artists, activists, experts, academics, politicians, innovators, all citizens of the planet to participate in a series of events, dialogues, and leading initiatives.

Pathway to Paris is joining 350.org, and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) North America Region to present the A VIRTUAL FESTIVAL FOR RESTORATION AND RECOVERY in celebration of the planet. The concert event will feature a diverse array of international music performances from the likes of Dave Matthews, Patti Smith, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Michael Stipe (REM), and several more including Tomás Doncker.

The concert event will stream live on June 4th at 3PM EST on these Facebook pages: www.facebook.com/pathway2Paris, www.facebook.com/350.org, www.facebook.com/unep, and www.facebook.com/UNEnvironmentNA

Tomás Doncker is a mirror to the times we live

“An artist’s main job is to reflect his or her time. That’s the job. With any luck we can actually, per chance, illuminate, shine a light, strike a match, curse the darkness. Thats if we’re lucky . . .”

Those words came from Tomás Doncker just over three years ago during our interview with him upon the release of his riveting release, The Mess We Made. (Click here to view the interview) That project, quite without intention, was born from what was for him the literal life-numbing response to hearing about the atrocious killing of nine African-Americans inside a church located in Charleston, SC, murdered by white supremacist Dylan Roof.  

Continue reading “Tomás Doncker is a mirror to the times we live”

Video Interview: Vocalist/Guitarist Tomás Doncker shows us “The Mess We Made”


“Don’t push me/cause I’m close to the edge . . .”

Many will recognize those as the lyrics to the iconic Rap classic, “The Message”, from Hip Hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Emcee Melle Mel earnestly gives the warning because, as he eloquently goes on to proclaim in the hook, “It’s like a jungle sometimes/It makes me wonder/How I keep from going under”describing the troublesome times, traps, and conditions facing a young black man living in New York City. That track was released in 1982. Fast forward to 2017 and for as many ways that we’ve advanced and come a long way, sadly, many of the same traps, biases, frustrations, inequity and volatility of the time that underscores “The Message” and even years before still exist today.

Something “pushed” multi-talented singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer, imageTomás Doncker past that “edge” on June 17, 2015. The event took a huge emotional toll on the accomplished New York bred, musician and artist who in addition to his own acclaimed projects, has performed and worked with artists such as Madonna, Meshell Ndegeocello, Ivan Neville, Cory Glover, and James Chance and the Contortions as well as being at the helm of the label True Groove Records.

But to “keep from going under” this always busy, man on the run, stopped and cancelled everything. And as a way to just heal, he shunned the world- played his guitar and wrote. What came from that, quite without intention, was the framework for his new release, The Mess We Made, an incredibly impressive, provocative, no holds barred, scolding of our country – of our society- but not without a few suggestions of things we can do to get right. At the same time, Doncker masterfully manages to entertain with a stirring soundtrack of soul, blues and funk he calls Global Soul.

ISPYSOUL caught up with Tomás Doncker to talk about the The Mess We Made and what drove him to let us know. Check out our interview above and others on the the I SPY SOUL YouTube Channel.

Click here to check out and purchase The Mess We Made

And to learn more about Tomás Doncker and True Groove Records go to Tomás Doncker.net

© ISPYSOUL 2017