Paying tribute to important American figures, Hozier took over the Tonight Show stage alongside gospel great Mavis Staples on Wednesday (Oct. 24) for a powerful performance of their activist anthem “Nina Cried Power.”
The lead single from Hozier’s new EP of the same name is inspired by the impact of artists like Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, James Brown and Staples — crediting the legacy of protest music in making change. Starting with low notes and slowly building up — Hozier kept his signature, mysterious demeanor as a full band and a series of backing vocalists complemented his mighty vocal delivery.
In between spiky, bass-filed riffs, he chanted the thought-provoking lyrics “It’s not the song, it is the singing/ It’s the hearing of a human spirit ringing/ It is the bringing of the line/ It is the baring of the rhyme/ It’s not the waking, it’s the rising.”
Representing two distinct musical eras, Hozier’s performance was accentuated by Staples, who delivered her full-throated charisma with her deep, affecting tenor. Hozier’s EP Nina Cried Power is out now and will be followed by a full-length album in 2019.
Watch Hozier and Mavis Staples’ performance on The Tonight Show below.