Black Belt Eagle Scout - Don't Give Up

Song of the Day
Hosted by Cheryl Waters

Today's Song of the Day, as chosen by Cheryl Waters, host of The Midday Show on KEXP, is "Don't Give Up" by Black Belt Eagle Scout, from the 2023 album The Land, The Water, The Sky on Saddle Creek.

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photo by jake Hanson
written by jasmine Albertson

Three years after the release of her sophomore record At the Party Wtih My Brown Friends, Katherine Paul unveiled the new Black Belt Eagle Scout single "Don't Give Up." The song is a dreamy, emotive gift to her Indigenous Swinomish, WA community, where over a melancholic guitar melody she hushedly touches on mental health awareness and the importance of connection to the land in the healing process. Paul wrote the song over the course of two years, starting in 2020 at a songwriting residency in Coast Salish territory before the pandemic and finishing in November 2021 while attending the same residency again.

She had this to say about the song:

“Don’t Give Up” is a song about mental health awareness and the importance that my connection to the land plays within my own mental health journey. Spending time with the land and on the water are ways that strengthen my connection to my ancestors and to my culture. It helps heal my spirit and is the form of self-care that helps me the most. The lyrics “I don’t give up” mean staying alive. I wrote this song for me but also for my community and anyone who deals with challenging mental health issues to remind us just how much of a role our connection to the environment plays within our healing process. At the end of the song when I sing, “The land, the water, the sky,” I wanted to sing it like my late grandfather Alexander Paul Sr. sang in our family’s big drum group—from the heart.


Black Belt Eagle Scout is embarking on a tour in February, with a date in Seattle on Wednesday, February 15th at Neumos. Watch Black Belt Eagle Scout’s KEXP in-studio performance from 2018 below.


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