"I wrote this song to keep the memory of Breonna Taylor alive. We can’t sit back and wait for justice to be given, we must fight for it," Kennedy Stephens tells PEOPLE

By Tomás Mier
September 24, 2020 03:30 PM
Kennedy Stephens
Kennedy Stephens

Kennedy Stephens' tribute to Breonna Taylor brings chills.

The 19-year-old singer's song dedicated to Taylor — the Black woman killed by Louisville police earlier this year — is pulling at the heartstrings of celebrities nationwide as America mourns Taylor's death and clamor for justice after none of Taylor's killers were charged for her death on Tuesday.

In the powerful track, which Stephens wrote, the emerging star sings from the perspective of Taylor herself the night that officers shot her to death while in her own bedroom.

“I’m scared for my life,” she sings. “One moment I’m sleeping in my bed with nothing to lose. One second later, I'm feeling my wounds. The world will never be the same because people are fighting for change."

The song's heart-wrenching lyrics — paired with her powerful rendition — have moved celebrities from Diddy amd Jermaine Dupri to Lori Harvey and Naomi Campbell to share the clip on social media.

"God bless u for this!!!! We cannot let up... we must continue to fight for justice...." wrote Jamie Foxx with a clip of Stephens singing acapella.

"Thank you @iamalexavant for sending me this beautiful tribute from @kennedystephens for Breonna Taylor called 'Wounds,'" Tiffany Haddish captioned the same video. "Kennedy killed it 🔥🔥🔥 everyone watching please share with your friends."

"Sang. Kennedy," wrote Snoop Dogg.

Kennedy Stephens
Dree Williams

As a young Black woman, Stephens tells PEOPLE that seeing the deaths of Black people at the hands of police has been incredibly overwhelming for her.

"I wrote this song to keep the memory of Breonna Taylor alive. We can’t sit back and wait for justice to be given, we must fight for it," she tells PEOPLE. "The issues of injustice can’t be ignored."

"This week marks 6 months since the murder of Breonna Taylor," she wrote in her initial post with the song. "Instead of getting discouraged, I decided to create. This is my tribute to Breonna Taylor. I hope you enjoy and Rest In Power To everyone we lost this year."

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The video's virality comes just a day after only one of the three officers involved with Taylor's killing was indicted for wanton endangerment for allegedly firing bullets that risked injury to persons in an adjacent apartment. Many celebrities reacted to the news, calling it an injustice.

"my heart is broken for the family of Breonna Taylor. once again we’re left with nothing that they try to make seem as something," wrote Ella Mai on Twitter after the verdict.'

"No knock warrants' feels analogous to the experience of being Black in America ... The unsolicited intrusion of racism and violence dealt with on a daily basis ..." wrote Yara Shahidi.

"BREONNA TAYLOR. She deserves better. She should be alive. Bare minimum. But since she isn’t- I’m praying for her family. Praying for #LouisvilleKy," added Jojo.

Stephens has been singing professionally since age 10, but this tribute to Taylor was the first song she ever wrote. "I’m so happy that it’s been receiving love from so many people," she adds.

Kennedy, a Riverside, Calif. resident, started her career at the young age of 10 and in 2015, she performed in girl group iD4GIRLS in front of President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. She dropped her debut single "Check" last year while attending Cal State Fullerton in Southern California.