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Breonna Taylor tribute by Kennedy Stephens resonates with millions amid growing protests across the US

Powerful work shared by Attorney Ben Crump, Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi, Tiffany Haddish, Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg, Shaun King and the Hollywood elite.

By Jessica Dupree
Edited By Craig Stanley 

After just one of three officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor was indicted on three counts of felony first-degree wanton endangerment – with no homicide charges issued – thousands of protesters organized in major U.S. cities chanting “No justice, no peace.” 

Meanwhile, others like emerging vocalist Kennedy Stephens took to social media to express their feelings, resulting in a moving tribute called “Wounds.” The video has been shared on social media by Attorney Crump, Black Lives Matter founder Opal Tometi, Naomi Campbell, Diddy, Tiffany Haddish, June Ambrose, Shaun King and Tamika Mallory. 

Managed by Alex Avant, son of The Black Godfather Clarence Avant, 19-year-old Stephens is cited as the next Whitney Houston by music critics. 

“It was important for me to create this tribute to Breonna Taylor because she was at home minding her business; she did nothing wrong,” Stephens said. “If we don’t fight, it gives the criminal justice system a reason to opt-out and act like nothing happened. Even though a settlement has been awarded to the family, I know they would much rather have Breonna back,” said Stephens.  

Stephens sat down with Heart and Soul Magazine to discuss the original composition “Wounds” that she wrote as a tribute to Breonna Taylor and released on the 6-month anniversary of her death.

Q. What inspired you to compose the tribute to Breonna Taylor? 

The inspiration in writing the tribute to Breonna Taylor started with a conversation with my manager, Alex Avant. We were talking about all the deaths and murder that have happened so far and how terrible it has been. A few days later, I was on the phone with my vocal coach, LeDon, and he was telling me a story about how he got pulled over by the police and he said “I was scared for my life”.  

That really resonated with me because I feel the same way, being stuck at home in quarantine, everything is on repeat on TV, internet, social media. I am constantly scared for my life and my family’s life.  After talking with both of them “I am scared for my life” was on repeat in my head. I just started writing and I came up with “Wounds”. This is the first song I have ever written.

Q. You sing the tribute with power and deep passion. What part of Breonna Taylor’s story did you connect with the most? 

What resonated with me the most was all of her dreams, goals and aspirations that will never be accomplished. The person they were looking for was already in jail. 

Q. What type of impact did you hope “Wounds” would have on listeners? 

I wanted people to feel empathy for Breonna Taylor, what her family is going through and what Black people are going through right now. As a young Black woman, I wanted to use my voice to keep another Black woman’s name alive. The fact that she isn’t much older than me is overwhelming. She had so much going for herself. When people comment that “Wounds” brought them to tears, I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do.

Q. Ben Crump, the lawyer representing the family of Breonna Taylor, posted your video on his social media page. How does it feel to have the support of Taylor’s attorney? 

It means a lot to have the support of Attorney Benjamin Crump. He has been working for justice on behalf of Breonna Taylor’s family from the beginning; he just won the huge $12M dollar lawsuit against the City of Louisville. He is also on the front line for the families of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Jacob Blake. So for him to be recognized by Time, and recognize my work, it means a lot.

Q. Your tribute has also been shared by celebrities like Diddy, Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg, Shaun King and more. Why do you think this tribute resonated with so many powerful people? 

Most Black people in America right now are scared for their lives. I feel like ‘Wounds’ resonated with these amazing people because they have had the same feeling. Maybe it was the passion in my voice, the hurt. I think they felt that.

Follow Kennedy Stephens on Instagram for more.

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