Thirteen years ago singer/songwriter Tanya LaReese was going through a difficult time with turmoil in the community and in her personal life. She witnessed the devastation of addiction with someone she knew. Her husband was a victim of gun violence. But from a childhood rooted in gospel music, she understood its power to inspire and was moved to write the song “God Give Us Peace,” a plea for faith, unity and healing. She recorded the song and included it on her 2007 album “Ready or Not.”
After the challenges and heartbreak of 2020, LaReese decided to revisit “God Give Us Peace.” She says that with COVID-19, unemployment, social injustice and everything else that has transpired this year, she wanted to encourage people to come together and have faith that things could improve.
She went back into the studio to “breathe new life into the song with fresh vocals” along with a music video, filmed on the grounds of the Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg. Instead of hiring actors, LaReese enlisted friends and community members to appear. The video depicts problems facing communities today, including homelessness, gun violence and drug abuse, as LaReese’s powerful voice soars over soulful, hopeful lyrics.
Florida State Senator Darryl Rouson has a role in the video as a counselor to Nicole Watkins, who portrays a prostitute. Tanya LaReese’s sister, Gwendolyn Conage, who has been battling cancer, gets a hug from the singer at the end of the video.
LaReese is a veteran singer, songwriter and recording artist, who has shared the stage with artists such as The Clark Sisters and Tank and performed in Clay Aiken’s Christmas Concert Tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall. She is well-versed in a variety of musical genres including Christian rock, R&B, Motown, jazz, classical, reggae, soul and funk.
She says her dream is to one day turn “God Give Us Peace” into a series or movie starring some of the original video participants.
“I would like people to hear the positive message that the song sends about all of us coming together and trusting in God,” LaReese said. “No matter what your background may be, you have a chance to overcome the tragedies that can occur in life.”
View the video here. The song is also on iTunes and Amazon Music.