Crys Matthews Asks Us to Be Our ‘Sister’s Keeper’ in Powerful New Song [EXCLUSIVE]
With her 2021 album Changemakers, folk singer Crys Matthews truly established herself as a force to be reckoned with. While Matthews is well-traveled in folk and women's music circles, her first showcase at last year's increasingly diverse AmericanaFest will hopefully lead to growing connections in Americana and country music. Today, on the 49th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, Matthews has released "Sister's Keeper," a fiery, wholehearted condemnation of the 2021 law passed in Texas which bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
"Sister's Keeper" is imbued with a sense of anger that was largely absent in Changemakers, which mostly focuses on determination and optimism in the power of the people. With an intergenerational chorus of feminists supporting her, Matthews deftly links abortion access to broader issues concerning women and people assigned female at birth such as income inequality and lack of bodily autonomy -- and the need for solidarity in the face of oppression.
"[My partner] Heather Mae and I were in upstate NY playing Caffe Lena and, on the way home to DC, our friend Natalia offered us some respite at her home," Matthews writes to The Boot exclusively. "While I was there, I really felt pulled to play 'Sister's Keeper' for her (Natalia Zukerman is an absolutely incredible songwriter, musician, and human) and I then sort of explained how I really wanted to release a lyric video or something for this song on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. She graciously offered to help produce some audio that would be suitable enough for that context and the three of us laid down some initial tracks there at her house. It just sort of snowballed from there and turned into this beautiful, collaborative, show of sisterhood... of RESISTerhood. It was so incredibly humbling, and truly amazing to see it all come together!"
The song features Meg Toohey on guitars, Matthews' former professor at Appalachian State University Dr. Karen Robertson on french horn, and a murderer's row of "badass women changemakers" in the chorus spanning generations, races, sexualities, and gender identities: Cathy Fink, Dar Williams, Emily Scott Robinson, Heather Mae, Holly Near, Jaimee Harris, Jillian Matundan, June Millington, Lilli Lewis, Lynn Hollyfield, Marcy Marxer, Mary Gauthier, Melissa Ferrick, Mya Byrne, Nahal Vahdat, Pamela Means and Shannon Linton.
Matthews amassed all of this incredible talent via e-mail, introducing herself and explaining her intentions for the song.
"As a lesbian, I jokingly say that I am my own birth control, but that doesn't mean I get to sit this one out," she wrote. "I am deeply committed to all women (and trans and non-binary folks) having access to the care they need to do what is best for their bodies and their families. I'm a PK [preacher's kid] who was taught to be my sister's keeper, so I try to walk that walk every day, and I know each of you do as well."
As Matthews explained in her e-mail, this song will not be for sale and will only be available via the lyric video. The video, which you can watch above, intersperses the song's moving lyrics with footage of news reports covering the 2021 Texas abortion law with clips of the 2017 National Woman's March and subsequent rallies held in support of abortion rights and reproductive health provider Planned Parenthood.