About US and THEM

America is the sum of its’ current citizens plus new immigrants. The proportion of “Us” to “Them” is not always constant. Most importantly, the “Them” eventually become the “Us”. It’s just a matter of time. For all of “us”, there was a time when “we” were “them”. People we know and love were once “them”.

When do “them” become “us? Is it when the newcomer learns English? When he or she obtains a drivers license? Or is it the technical definition of becoming an American citizen? Is the incubation period the same for Europeans, Arabs, Asians or Africans? Somewhere along the line, since we are mostly not Native Americans, the transformation occurs. The immigrant becomes an American. When does this transformation take place? When a dingy full of people crashes into the coast of Florida and the salt soaked pioneers scatter into the suburban streets? Or is it when the accent of a child evaporates in the reading classes of the crowded city schools? Do we not recognize people as Americans until they are legal citizens, even though they build our houses, raise our children and treat our parents in hospitals?

For years, Garry Dial and Terre Roche have been talking about their project of national anthems. Friends, fans and students would hear about it from time to time.

Why would a jazz musician and folk musician perform national anthems? When was the last time anyone found themselves singing along to national anthems in the car?

What are anthems? Aren’t anthems primarily battle songs?

“Us and Them” began as a curiosity about the musical challenges of making arrangements of national anthems. It grew into an adventure in communication among musicians of many different cultures. Staying put in their native New York City, working as performers and music teachers, Garry Dial and Terre Roche came across a wildly diverse cast of characters who became the band that you are about to hear. You will probably be surprised.

Enjoy the music!

-- Bob Justich, executive producer

In the beginning of the project, 17 years ago, Garry and I picked the anthems out of books according to no particular motive. We began to arrange them and make tapes of ourselves singing and playing them. Over the years we replaced ourselves with people from the different countries involved. In the process, we encountered various responses. Some people felt reverent and patriotic. Some people didn’t care for what their anthem said. And some people didn’t even know their anthem. Each of the different attitudes opened up a fascinating discussion. And each musician contributed a gem to what evolved into “Us and Them”.

-- Terre Roche