Between the fiery speeches from activists and the rhythmic chants of millions of attendees, most of the buzzed-about moments from the Women’s March on Washington were loud and hard to ignore. But in the days following the event, a deeply moving clip that focused on a smaller, quieter pocket of the crowd also went viral.
Captured in the nearly three-minute video, a group of women — led by Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter MILCK — harmonize as bystanders begin to take notice. The lyrics of the song, “Quiet,” touch on a woman’s internal struggle between meeting society’s expectations (“put on your face / know your place”) and voicing her own opinion. It’s a struggle most can empathize with easily, though the 30-year-old songwriter drew on her personal experiences.
“I was in a relationship when I was 14, and it became a relationship of manipulation and control and making me feel unsafe until I did what he wanted,” she tells Us. “It took me 11 years to realize I was the victim.” Combined with challenges she faced in the music industry as an Asian-American woman, MILCK felt compelled to capture her emotions the best way she knew how: setting words to notes. “I was sure that if I was feeling it that strongly that not only were other Asian-Americans feeling this way, but [so were] women of all different races, background, and political beliefs.”
She initially recorded the track on her own, but the idea of a flash-mob choir started percolating as she and her friend Krista Suh, co-creator of the famous P***yhat Project, began discussing plans to attend the January 21 march in Washington. MILCK created a 10-part harmony and recorded each section individually before reaching out to a cappella groups in the D.C. area. Between a few Skype calls and one in-person rehearsal, the volunteers learned the arrangement. “When there’s 25 women of similar consciousness and a desire for a better world, singing together, there’s no other therapy out there for this,” MILCK says, noting that the group ranged from a college sophomore to a middle-aged mother of three sons.
The song quickly spread across the internet, catching the attention of celebrities including Gillian Anderson and Samantha Bee, who invited MILCK and two participating a capella groups (Capital Blend and the GW Sirens) onto her show to perform. “It’s been a whirlwind,” MILCK says. “My family is super excited and my sister is a surgeon, and she’s been joking like, ‘OK, well, it’s time for me to retire! I’m gonna follow you!’”
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