Amid unrest, songs continue to voice the black experience

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This image shows, from left, Trey Songz performing at the BET Awards in Los Angeles on June 25, 2017, Mickey Guyton performing at the PBS's American Masters "Patsy Clyne" panel at the 2017 Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 15, 2017 and Leon Bridges performing at the 2016 Apollo Theater Spring Gala in New York on June 13, 2016. The trio are among several artists who have released songs in response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. (AP Photo)

NEW YORK – After watching the ghastly video of George Floyd dying as a police officer pressed a knee on his neck, Grammy-nominated R&B singer Trey Songz couldn’t sleep. He felt a pain in his gut so heavy it brought him down to his home studio, where he began recording a new song.

Though Songz said the melody and lyrics came to him quickly, his voice cracked and he couldn't sing.

“As I tried to get (the lyrics) out, I couldn’t get them out," the 35-year-old said. “My voice would break, or tears would fall."

So he went into the Los Angeles streets to protest in solidarity alongside thousands grieving Floyd's death and demanding reforms to policing in America.

“It was so much love and good energy out there, like so much hope. Really looking to your right, to your left, seeing people of so many ethnicities standing for our cause — it gave me the strength that I needed to come back and finish the song,” he said.

“2020 Riots: How Many Times” was released Friday and features an-all black choir from Atlanta elevating Songz’ passionate vocals on the track.

“I was actually crying on some of them lyrics,” he said. “It’s pain. It’s sadness. It’s anger. It’s rage. It’s confusion.”

Other musicians have released songs in the last week in the wake of Floyd's death and those of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. The artists include Meek Mill, Kane Brown, Ty Dolla $ign, Terrace Martin and Run the Jewels (a Spotify playlist of the songs can be found here ).