23-year-old creates powerful song, ‘I Can’t Breathe’

A 23-year-old musician is going viral after writing an emotional song about racial injustice, police brutality and more.

Devin Marie, a singer from Long Island, posted the video to Facebook on May 28, just days after the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd sparked a wave of protests around the world. Her song is titled “I Can’t Breathe,” a reference to the words uttered by both Floyd and New York man Eric Garner — who died in 2014 — as they lost their lives at the hands of police officers. 

“I’m tired of living in the skin I’m in,” Marie sings in the track’s opening verse. “I didn’t know danger was synonymous with melanin.”

The singer goes on to reference other unarmed Black men who have been killed by figures of authority in the past several years, including Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch coordinator in 2012. 

“All our sons and daughters are dying before they get a chance to reach for their dreams,” she sings. “When they reach for Skittles or their wallets somebody screams.”

Marie’s video has drawn more than 13,000 shares in the past week, as well as hundreds of comments from Facebook users who called the piece “powerful” and “hauntingly beautiful.” Many wrote that the track moved them to tears. 

“I can’t stop crying. But alas, my tears are no measure of the pain of a people who are still suffering. I see you! I stand with you and I promise to speak, yell, shout or whatever it takes,” one commenter wrote

“Moving beyond words,” another added. “You’ve captured the unfathomable pain in the most beautiful and honest way. My heart breaks listening to you sing … but I want to listen to it over and over again.”

Based on the video, it appears many components of the song were created entirely by Marie, with the 23-year-old adding piano, backup vocals and a drum beat made by pounding on her chest. Toward the end of the clip, she harmonizes the song’s title with herself, singing “I Can’t Breathe” with a full chorus of voices.

“I wrote this song last night and just wanted to share a stripped version of it because it’s our reality,” Marie captioned her video. “The words are too true, and we need to speak up — please listen.”

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