First settled in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in the U.S state of Georgia. The bustling port played an integral role in the Atlantic slave trade, importing thousands of African people of primarily Congolese descent.
Even after the state banned the direct important of Africans in 1798, written records indicate that slave ships arrived on coastal Georgia as late as 1858. Many of these were driven by pirates who profited by luring escaped slaves to their boats, imprisoning them, and selling their labor overseas.
In 1854, a French ship called The Grietely arrived in Savannah to collect 71 runaway slaves. Chained to the bottom of the boat, the slaves pounded the walls in order to escape. As the damaged ship began to take in water, the captain refused help from locals to save those imprisoned below deck. Everyone chained to the boat perished.
Legend has it that the harbor remains haunted by the ghosts of those who drowned on The Grietely. Some sailors insist that they can sense a force in the waters that pulls their boats off course. Others have reported hearing voices spoken in Bantu.
For this piece, Suss Müsik layered recordings of African American laments against a bed of Moog synth and bass drum. Listeners may recognize the haunting lyric of New Buryin’ Ground: “Well I can hear the hammer ringin’ / On somebody coffin / A well, it must have been my captain," in addition to an unknown vocalist singing Arwhoolie Cornfield Holler.
The piece is titled Grietely. The image was taken on the waters of the Savannah river.