MLK Jr. Day 2021: All About Patty Griffin’s Tribute Song ‘Up To The Mountain’

by Keeli Parkey
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People across the United States are paying tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., today (Monday, Jan. 18). One of the songs that will without a doubt be heard many times today is “Up to the Mountain” by Patty Griffin.

The popular singer and songwriter was inspired to write the song by one of Dr. King’s most well-known speeches, according to SongFacts.com.

While Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, given in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 23, 1963, is probably his most famous speech, his “I’ve Been to Mountaintop” speech just might be more poignant because of when it was given. Dr. King was made this speech on April 3, 1968, the day before he was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee. It is the “Mountaintop” speech that inspired Patty Griffin to write this song.

In his “Mountaintop” speech, Dr. King talks about waiting for change while at the same time hoping for a better future. “We’ve got some difficult days ahead,” he said. “But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

Patty Griffin Echoes Dr. King in Song

Patty Griffin echoes Dr. King’s message of hope in her song.

“The peaceful valley / Just over the mountain / The peaceful valley / Few come to know / I may never get there / Ever in this lifetime / But sooner or later / It’s there I will go / Sooner or later.”

According to SongFacts.com, Griffin began playing the song in 2005. It was recorded by Solomon Burke in 2006. Burke actually knew Dr. King. Kelly Clarkson brought even more notoriety to the song when she performed it in 2007.

You can watch Patty Griffin perform “Up to the Mountain” below. Before she begins singing, she confirms that the song was inspired by Dr. King’s “Mountaintop” speech. “That’s the name of the song and it goes like this,” Griffin said before singing.

Watch Martin Luther King, Jr. give his famous “I’ve Been to Mountaintop” speech below.

Patty Griffin Joins Others in Paying Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Patty Griffin’s tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. isn’t the only one you can watch today. Other celebrities and athletes have also honored the man who did so much to help our country move forward.

On Jan. 15, which is Dr. King’s birthday, NBA superstar Lebron James shared his thoughts on King’s legacy.

“I believe he would be 92 years of age if he was still here,” James said. “What he do for us every single day, his name, his words and his legacy still live on. So, he is shining his light on us every day. As NBA players and our league we continue to voice what he was talking about. About equality – all races, all shapes and sizes, all colors coming together for the better of happiness and the better of love.”

LeBron James also said there is still work to do to bring about equality. And, what can over come hate is love.

“We understand that we are going to see hate,” he said. “Hate is going to be a part of America, going to be a part of this world, but if we can have more people that’s in the love factor and not in the hate then we can continue to be better.”

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace has also recently paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. He posted a mural of Dr. King from New Orleans with the caption: “Love more, hate not.” Wallace is known for his activism within his sport.

H/T: Biography.com.

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