Gospel singer and songwriter, Desmond Pringle, remembers the day nine people were gunned down by a killer who opened fire inside of the historic Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The racially-motivated crime sent ripples throughout the Charleston community and further ignited national dialogue around the fate of the Confederate flag, which was removed the following month from the state Capitol in Columbia.
Now, exactly one year from that dreadful day, Pringle, a Charleston native who grew up less than a mile from the church, is releasing his new single, called “Get Us Through.” The song honors the victims of the tragedy and also sends a message of hope and empowerment to victims of other horrific and catastrophic events.
For Pringle, the “Charleston Nine,” as the tragedy came to be called, hit very close to home.
“It was very personal,” he said. “As I watched the news, I am seeing places that are very familiar to me – every street sign and every landmark. One of the ladies who was killed was the wife of the pastor at the church I grew up in. I sang at Emanuel AME just a few months prior and had been in talks with Rev. Senator Clementa Pinckney (Emanuel AME’s Pastor who was also killed) to come back and do a concert there. It was crazy.”
“As I watched the reports, I just sang to myself, ‘Get us through, Lord, Oh get us through.’ And there the song was. It came very organically.”
Pringle stated that members of the local community have still struggled to move on from that day. They are still in disbelief that the gunman, Dylan Roof, targeted the church and sat through an entire Bible study session before carrying out his heinous attack. For the families connected to the victims, he knows that as the anniversary nears, memories of that dark day in history will result in more pain and grieving.
The city of Charleston has scheduled a week and a half of events to mark the anniversary of the incident and to remember the lives of those lost. On June 25th, the finale, Pringle has been invited to perform at Emanuel AME Church. His desire is to be a vessel for healing.
“I hope that the song will serve as a tool to help people language the heart’s cry for the help of God and for those going through something that is catastrophic and tragic,” Pringle said. “A song for when words just don’t seem to suffice. I hope it will become the song of prayer. I call it my S.O.S – My Song of Supplication.”
“Get Us Through,” will be released on Friday, June 17th and will be available on iTunes, CD baby, Amazon and other digital platforms. Desmond Pringle will perform on Saturday, June 25th from 6 pm to 8 pm as the headliner of the Grand Finale Gospel Concert at Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St., Charleston, SC 29401. To learn more about Desmond Pringle, visit www.desmondpringle.com.