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In January of 2006, Michael and I sat down in a coffee shop on Craig Street in Pittsburgh for our first ever brainstorming session. Our goal was to come up with a couple of ideas for songs that we could write for a CD that would help to raise funds for the Carnegie Mellon class of 2006 senior showcase.
There were some terrible, terrible ideas kicked around that day.
One of the ideas that proved to be less terrible than the others involved a character who was sick and tired of being cast as the token African American female in musicals.
How awesome would it be, we dared to dream, if we could get burgeoning star Patina Miller (who had just brought down the house as Penelope Pennywise in a student production of Urinetown) to sing it?
When Michael nervously played the first draft for the divine Ms. Miller (who neither of us knew particularly well), she paused, gave him what we would later learn was a trademark Patina stare, and asked, “So… this is a comedy song, right?”
In the years that have followed, we’ve written better songs. However, nothing we’ve written has been performed, heard, or discussed more than “Random Black Girl”.
Lyrics after the jump.
RANDOM BLACK GIRL
I’m not like the other girls in this show.
I’m something of a sore thumb.
I’m starting to think that I’m different.
And I suspect I know how come.
My complexion stands out.
And my voice does as well.
Cause in case you haven’t noticed,
I’m black as hell.
It’s an obligatory part of every new musical
It’s the random black girl singin’ the soul.
Every show must have an ensemble,
Without it things wouldn’t be right
And every crowd needs at least one person
Who doesn’t happen to be white.
Well, that girl is usually me,
Feels like I’m just filling a quota.
Anytime I ever have lines,
They’re “yes’m”, and “yessir” and “nosa’”.
When it comes to the plot I play no significant role
I’m just a random black girl singin’ the soul.
So, I conduct with my hands
And I’ll squinch up my eyes
And then I’ll open my mouth
And at the end of the song
When it’s time to let go
I’ll give ‘em a dose
Of my crazy vibrato.
Why couldn’t I be cast for a part in The Color Purple,
‘Stead of a random black girl singin’ the soul?
My agent gave me advice.
Those words I’ll never forget.
He said “Don’t think you’ll ever be cast
As Eponine or Cossette.”
But I guess things always could be worse,
When it comes to my Broadway station
At least I’m not cursed
Enough to have been born Asian.
Then I’d be stuck in Miss Saigon dancing on a pole,
Stead of the random black girl singin’ the soul.
The designers can’t light me.
Director don’t know my name.
And the make up artist thinks
That we all wear the same…shade.
And Mr. Stage Manager
Thinks I got too much sass.
The costumer don’t know what to do,
With my big old black—-hair.
Maybe I should audition for American Idol.
They love the random black girl singin’ the soul.
So what does this song change?
Well, not a relevant thing.
But you gotta be thinkin’ to yourself
“Goddamn, this sister can sing”.
Don’t you hate it when songs are so self-referential?
I’m a random black girl singin’ the…
Don’t stop me now, cause baby I’m on a roll.
I’m the random black girl singin’ the…
I can make an entire phrase out of one syllable.
Cause I’m a random black girl singin’ the soul.