Stan Walker has shared a stirring live version of “I AM”, his new song for Ava DuVernay’s film, Origin.
Walker released the original song in November, ahead of the official release of Origin this year on NEON. “I AM” was unveiled at a glamorous premiere on the renowned US talk show CBS Mornings with Gayle King.
DuVernay asked to work with Walker after discovering his rendition of Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam”, sliding into the iconic Aotearoa artist’s DMs to invite him to create a song for her upcoming film. “That voice, that vibe, that verve? It’s real. And sincere. And sensational,” DuVernay said about Walker’s talent.
“I AM” is described as a “declaration of ownership and reclamation of one’s identity,” with Walker emphasising the significance of understanding our whakapapa (lineage) and origins.
“‘I AM’ is a declaration, not just who I am, but a declaration for anybody who has ever felt like they don’t know who they are,” he explained. “Everyone has a different story, and some people are ashamed because their cultures have been attached to negative things. I have lived that life but that is not what our culture is.
“The negative outcomes are the result of intergenerational trauma caused by the suppression of our cultural identity and expression, but that is not who we are. Māori society in its purest form is aroha (love) and we have protocols for everything to show respect.
“We have protocols for walking in the house, how we prepare our kai (food) and who prepares our kai, and we never take more from the land and sea than we need. For me, ‘I AM’ is an affirmation that it’s never too late to take ownership of your identity and reconnect to your roots.”
The live version, released today, was created with The Levites, and the process was very personal to Walker. “There is nothing better for me as an artist, than bringing your songs to life in a live setting with your team,” he explains.
You can watch the live version below, which was filmed at Parachute Studios in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Stan Walker’s “I AM” (Live) is out now.