On January 6th, 2021, a group of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol Building, leading to violence, chaos, and the eventual certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. In the days following the riot, many companies and organizations took steps to distance themselves from Trump and his supporters, including tech giant Apple, which removed a song featuring Trump from its platform.
The song, “Lift Your Voices,” was performed by the Freedom Choir of Sing Sing, a prison in New York. The choir was composed of incarcerated individuals, and the song was written and arranged by inmate Lenny Singleton. The song features a spoken-word section by Trump, taken from a phone call he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in an attempt to overturn the state’s election results.
The song was released on January 2nd and quickly gained traction on social media, reaching the top of the iTunes charts. However, on January 7th, Apple removed the song from its platform, citing its policy against content that incites violence.
The decision to remove the song was met with criticism from some who saw it as an infringement on free speech. However, others praised the move, arguing that the song’s inclusion of Trump’s comments was inappropriate and could be seen as glorifying the events of January 6th.
In this article, we will examine the events leading up to Apple’s decision to remove the song, the policy that prompted the removal, and the response to the move from both supporters and critics.
The Creation of “Lift Your Voices
Sing Sing’s Freedom Choir was founded in 2011 by New York-based activist, Cathy Scott. The choir provides incarcerated individuals with the opportunity to participate in a creative and artistic outlet that can help with their rehabilitation, building self-esteem and confidence. Over the years, the choir has performed at various public events, including churches, schools, and correctional facilities.
In early December 2020, the choir began work on a new song, titled “Lift Your Voices.” The song was intended to be a message of hope and unity, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the country following the death of George Floyd.
The song was written and arranged by Lenny Singleton, a member of the choir who had been incarcerated since 2002. Singleton described the song as “a call for unity and togetherness, a reminder that we’re all in this together, no matter our background or beliefs.”
The choir recorded the song in December, and it was released on January 2nd, 2021, on various streaming platforms, including Apple Music.
The Inclusion of Trump’s Comments
The version of “Lift Your Voices” that was released on Apple Music featured a spoken-word section by then-President Donald Trump. The section was taken from a phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2nd, in which he attempted to overturn the state’s election results.
In the call, Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn the election, claiming that he had won the state and that the election had been stolen from him. Raffensperger refused Trump’s request, and the call was later leaked to the press.
Singleton said that the inclusion of Trump’s comments in the song was meant to highlight the importance of voting and the need to “hold elected officials accountable.” However, the decision to include Trump’s comments in the song was met with criticism from some who saw it as an attempt to glorify the events of January 6th.
The Removal of the Song from Apple Music
On January 7th, 2021, Apple removed “Lift Your Voices” from its platform, citing its policy against content that incites violence.
In a statement to the press, Apple said, “We have removed this song from our platform because it includes content that could be seen as inciting violence. We do not condone violence of any kind, and we will continue to take steps to ensure that our platform is free from content that promotes or glorifies violence.”
The decision to remove the song was met with mixed reactions from the public. Some praised Apple’s move, arguing that the song’s inclusion of Trump’s comments was inappropriate and could be seen as glorifying the events of January 6th. Others criticized the move, arguing that it was an infringement on free speech and that the song was intended to be a message of hope and unity, not violence.
The Impact of the Removal
The removal of “Lift Your Voices” from Apple Music had a significant impact on the song’s popularity. Prior to its removal, the song had reached the top of the iTunes charts and had been widely shared on social media. However, after its removal, the song’s popularity waned, and it disappeared from public view.
Singleton expressed disappointment at the song’s removal, saying, “The song was intended to be a message of hope and unity, and I was proud to have been a part of it. It’s unfortunate that Apple felt the need to remove it from their platform, but I understand their policy on content that incites violence.”
The move by Apple to remove “Lift Your Voices” from its platform is just one example of how tech companies are taking steps to distance themselves from Trump and his supporters in the wake of the events of January 6th. The social media platform Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account, and other companies, such as Facebook and Google, have taken steps to remove content that promotes violence and misinformation.
The events of January 6th, 2021, will be remembered as a dark moment in American history. The storming of the Capitol Building was a direct attack on democracy and the rule of law, and it sent shockwaves through the country and the world.
Apple’s decision to remove “Lift Your Voices” from its platform was a response to the events of January 6th and the policy that the company has in place to prevent content that incites violence. The decision was met with mixed reactions from the public, with some praising the move and others criticizing it.
The removal of the song from Apple Music may have had an impact on its popularity, but the message of hope and unity that it carried will live on. The Sing Sing Freedom Choir will continue to provide incarcerated individuals with an opportunity to express themselves creatively, and the choir’s work will continue to inspire and uplift those who hear it.
As we move forward from the events of January 6th, it is important that we continue to strive for unity, hope, and reconciliation. The work of groups such as the Sing Sing Freedom Choir can help to inspire us and remind us of the power of art and community in times of difficulty and division.