Nationwide-conversation-sparking tragedies regularly dominate news coverage, and artists like Jackie Hill Perry feel a burden to contribute to those conversations with their art.

“Nina Simone said, ‘How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?’” Jackie Hill Perry told Rapzilla in an interview at Legacy Conference 2016. “On my album which was two years ago, my song ‘The Solution’, I wrote that after Jordan Davis was killed after having his music up too loud. The guy thought thought that it was justifiable for him to shoot the gun into the car. And so even then, I was writing about these issues because it’s like, if that’s what’s on my heart, that’s what’s going to come out.

“I feel like, as an artist, I’m equally an artist and an influencer, and so it’s like, how can I create songs or poems or blogs that will influence people’s thinking to right thinking — not away from Christ, but how do we see the scriptures, how do we think through this stuff and how do we apply it to our lives and our hearts where it affects how we love people and how we love God? And so I can’t help but talk about it.

“If you just want me to talk about justification and not talk about loving your neighbor who may or may not be a believer, then I’m not the artist for you.”

Hill Perry referenced a spoken-word poem that she performed at Legacy, “7 Things I Want to Say to America”, as an example of her art reflecting the times.

“I just had a lot of issues that I wanted to get out,” she said, “and so I wanted to talk about why are black neighborhoods food deserts? Why are there no grocery stores, but why are there liquor stores and Popeyes Chicken? If we don’t die by the bullet, we might die by high blood pressure. I think that’s a problem.

“I also talked about my increased fear of the police. I don’t trust them cats. It’s hard for me to believe that when you pull me over, I’ma leave alive when I’ve consistently seen that not happen.”

In the interview, Hill Perry also talked about her husband, Preston, being racially profiled, her job at GRIP Outreach For Youth and the Poets in Autumn Tour.