'Seven Minutes Down': Inspired by George Floyd, local songwriter's call to action earns national attention


Ever since the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, Warwick musician, singer and songwriter Joanne Lurgio has shared her music for free through an online “Live at Five, Safe at Home” daily song share.

The songs, which she performs at 5 p.m. each night from her home, have resonated with many listeners seeking comfort.

Then, as the nation reacted to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, Lurgio turned to her source of comfort – her music. She wrote a new song, “Seven Minutes Down (I Can’t Breathe).”

“That moment when I heard George Floyd breathlessly call out for his mama, I could barely catch my own breath; my thoughts immediately went to my son,” Lurgio said. “I was literally haunted by the sound of George Floyd’s cries, it stuck in my head all through the night and the days to follow. That morning when I woke, I posted on my Facebook page, ‘Last night cried for a man I have never known,’ and there began the writing of ‘Seven Minutes Down.’”

As she continued to follow the news coverage of Floyd’s death and the demonstrations that followed, she read stories.

“I Googled to see who George Floyd was, listened to devastated family and friends, so many emotions. When I finally sat to put the song together my goal was to capture only those 7 minutes that George Floyd was held down on the ground, 7:46 to be exact – a snapshot in time,” Lurgio said.

Lurgio at one point began reworking her song’s lyrics based on initial reports that Floyd had been held down by a police officer’s knee on his neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. Authorities, however, later determined the length of time had actually been 7 minutes, 46 seconds.

When the song was finished, Lurgio submitted her recording to the John Lennon Songwriting Contest’s “Stuck at Home” weekly songwriting contest. She was soon thrilled to learn the song has been selected as a winner.

“I performed ‘Seven Minutes Down’ on their live Instagram stream and won a wonderful package of prizes including an electric guitar, microphone and recording gear,” Lurgio said.

Since then, a friend has created a powerful video for the song. Lurgio’s goal now is to not let George Floyd’s name be lost in the quick changing daily news.

“We cannot simply move on again, ignoring, numb to what we see happening. It has to stop. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ... live in peace for all Americans,” Lurgio said. “I hope ‘Seven Minutes Down’ will be a part of the continued awareness in this movement for change.”

You may view the video on YouTube at youtu.be/vfMInNlNv7U or visit joannelurgio.com.

“With the release of the video I also called for donations to the Equal Justice Initiative,” Lurgio said. It can be found online an eji.org.


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