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Editor’s note: Ryan Benyo of Kid Pan Alley shares new song lyrics written with 4th graders at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Richmond as part of a Music of Art residency with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The song is being released this month. 

“The song is called ‘On Our Way To Liberty’ and was inspired by a painting from 1862, A Ride for Liberty by Eastman Johnson,” writes Kid Pan Alley’s Ryan Benyo, a Los Angeles-based musical, engineer and artist who graduated from Rappahannock County High School. 

“It depicts a black family on horseback escaping slavery and riding towards the freedom and safety of the Union. Johnson witnessed the scene during the Civil War at Centerville on the morning of McClellan's advance towards Manassas. 

“The recording features Lea Morris on vocals as well as the Multi-Grammy Award Winning harmonica player Howard Levy of the Flecktones. ‘On Our Way To Liberty’ captures the mystery, danger and excitement of the painting. We hope you enjoy the song and that it will inspire people to think about what they can do to work for justice in this world.” 

On Our Way To Liberty 

We don't know where we're going 

But we'll follow the stars

Cause there's hope for freedom 

And a new life

We're on our way to liberty 

In the dark of night 

We're running from injustice 

From the shackles and chains 

We whisper in the dark

We follow our hearts 

We're on our way to liberty 

In the dark of night 

We're scared and we're frightened 

But we know it's worth the risk 

We can almost taste the freedom 

It’s there upon our lips 

We've reached the mountaintop 

They can't steal us back

Cause we're free men now

Safe from their traps 

We're on our way to liberty 

In the dark of night 

We're scared and we're frightened 

But we know it's worth the risk 

We can almost taste the freedom 

It’s there upon our lips 

We have reached the mountaintop 

They can't steal us back

Cause we're free men now

Safe from their traps 

We're on our way to liberty 

In the dark of night

We're on our way to liberty

We're on our way to liberty

We are on our way to liberty

In the dark of night


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