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Jamila Woods’ new video is hair-raisingly ‘Holy’

Artist Jamila Woods in her new music video “Holy.” Screenshot from YouTube

(RNS) Singer, songwriter and poet Jamila Woods‘ new video is winning praise from critics as a “psalm” full of “manna” and self-affirmation.

Her song “Holy” opens with a blend of lines from the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm:

Give me my daily bread

Help me to walk alone ahead

Though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no love

Oh, my smile, my mind, reassure me I don’t need no one

In a new video released Tuesday (May 2), Woods, who is 27,  sings directly into the camera as her long, braided hair — Lazarus-like — rises into the air behind her.  In another scene, she walks alone down a church aisle in a long white dress while isolated black women watch from the pews.

The video was created to celebrate the rerelease of Woods’ debut album, 2016’s “Heavn,” which included the song.

Woods is known for blending the layered gospel sounds of her childhood church’s choir into hip-hop and other forms of contemporary music. She has collaborated with other musicians known for blending their faith and music, including Chance the Rapper on “Sunday Candy” and oddCouple on “Love Above.”

Rodney Carmichael of NPR’s “All Songs Considered” podcast called the new video an “ode to single black women who’ve considered self-pity when the loneliness was too much.”

Woods, who also serves as the associate artistic director of the nonprofit Young Chicago Authors, said her music “speaks to the resilience I have seen in black women around me and that I hope to manifest in myself.”

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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