Pop duo Gracie and Rachel didn’t have plans to release any new work this year while they fine-tuned their upcoming second album—but that changed when they woke up early last month to watch Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation that Supreme Court nominee (and now, Justice) Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in high school.
“We woke up that morning and were glued to screens, watching each other, watching women and feeling empowered by the bravery we saw,” Rachel told Ms. “We started writing a song, which started on the piano in our studio, and created it’s cyclical, repetitive, introspective, unrelenting tone. It speaks to moving forward and uplifting each other and keeping those wheels going.”
“We were writing the song, creating the idea, then pausing the music to play the hearing to feel more emotional and more empowered and angry all of those rollercoaster emotions,” Gracie added. “We wanted to create a musical feeling to represent the cycle that Ford was working to break.”
They wanted to make a song for “HER”—Blasey Ford and all of the other women who have stood up for what’s right throughout history and are still fighting in this moment. They wanted to thank the women who made an impact and inspire more women to use their own voices to seek justice and change. The resulting feminist anthem is a tribute to powerful women who speak out and the survivors and allies who believe them and support them.
“It just felt like using our voices right now is everything, its the whole point,” Gracie shared. “That’s what we need more than ever. It felt really important to make moves and make art and make statements that will hopefully empower more people to come forward.”
Having grown up in Berkley and been raised by activist parents, it isn’t a surprise that the two friends who met in high school went on to create a song like HER—and once they had, they knew they had to share it. “The next morning after the hearings, we were still singing, and having her in our thoughts, and all the other women that have helped move us forward,” Rachel explained. “It felt like we had no option to not put it up.”
The music video for “HER” builds on the energy of the track, pairing the song’s lyrics with images of resilient feminist trailblazers from myriad backgrounds who have used their voices to fight violence—including not just Blasey Ford and Anita Hill, but Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke, Olympian Aly Raisman, girls’ rights activist Malala Yousafzai, March for Our Lives co-founder Emma Gonzales, the pop artist Kesha and even Ms. co-founder Gloria Steinem.
The message is clear: “If you are a survivor, we hear you and believe you,” Rachel told Ms. “Look at all these other women who stand beside you to lift you up! We want someone to be able to have the courage to come forward after seeing the video, or at least feel like they can.”
The video went viral on Facebook as soon as the music duo posted it—and in light of the big reaction, they decided to put it on BandCamp for purchase in order to raise money for RAINN as they broke the Internet. 100 percent of the proceeds from the track will go to the anti-violence group so that more survivors can have the resources they need and activists will remain equipped for what comes next.
“This song never felt like it was for us,” Gracie told Ms. “Usually our songs feel like they should represent us when we’re making an album, but this was cool because it’s felt so much less about us and more about the many hers out there. That’s the part that excites us the most.” Looking forward, Gracie and Rachel want to continue using their music and their platform to raise awareness and foster dialogue around important issues.
“I think conversation is where it all begins,” Gracie said, noting that their experience in the weeks since HER debuted are proof of how powerful raising topics like violence can be in different communities. “Since the video came out, there have been a lot of conversations,” Gracie added. “Some of that is difficult, but a lot of it is people rallying together—people saying ‘this is empowering me to talk about what I’ve gone through,’ people sharing and tagging friends saying ‘here is a song for us to come together and enjoy.’ Hopefully people feel empowered and hopeful and know that there is strength in numbers.”
Gracie knows that highlighting that strength right now is more important than ever. “This is the moment and time for us to rally and be loud.”
Miranda Martin is a feminist writer and activist and an editorial intern at Ms. She has written for a variety of publications and been published by The Unedit and Project Consent. Miranda recently graduated from University of Wisconsin La Crosse with a major in Interpersonal Communications and a double minor in Creative Writing and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She loves to travel, read, exercise and daydream about the fall of the patriarchy.