Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Fired Up! Ready To Go!" Chant (Comments & Videos)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases the story of the call & response chant "Fired Up! Ready To Go!" that then candidate Senator Barack Obama adopted for his 2008 United States Presidential campaign.

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, political, and inspirational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

The story of 'Fired up! Ready to go'
By BYRON TAU 4/4/12 12:29 PM EDT

"In honor of the one year anniversary of the kickoff of the 2012 Obama campaign, Chicago has released a video telling the story of the 2008 chant "Fired Up! Ready to go."

The video tells the tale of a 2007 Greenwood, S.C. rally where a supporter named Edith S. Childs helped create a chant that would set the tenor of the 2008 campaign.

"I'm Edith S. Childs from Greenwood, S.C. and I'm the one that got Barack Obama fired up," Childs says in the video".
Late in the evening of November 5, 2012, towards the end of his final campaign speech of the 2012 Presidential campaign in Des Moines, Iowa, President Barack Obama re-told the story of the fired up/ready to go chant. He then told the crowd of 20,000 persons in attendance at that speech that he had invited the creator of that chant Edith S. Childs to join him & his wife Michelle in Iowa for that last campaign speech. However, President Obama said that Ms. Childs thanked him but said that she wouldn't be able to come to Iowa because she was going to be knocking on doors and helping to get people out to vote in North Carolina on election day November the 6th. President Obama said that showed that she was still fired up. He then led the people in the rally in that now iconic call & response chant:

"Fired up!"
(Fired up!")

"Ready to go!"
("Ready to go!")

Example #1 : Obama: "Fired Up? Ready To Go!"

DemRapidResponse, Uploaded on Nov 4, 2008

Manassas, Virginia, 11/3/08

Obama: Finally we get to Greenwood. We pull up -- first of all, you don't know you're in Greenwood right away when you get to Greenwood, there aren't a lot of tall buildings there. We pull up to a small building, a field house in the park. We go inside. And lo and behold, after an hour and a half drive, turns out there are twenty people there. Twenty people, and they all look kind of damp and kind of sleepy, like maybe they aren't really excited to be there either. But you know, I am a professional. Ive got to do what I got to do. [applause] So I go around, I'm shaking hands, I'm saying how ya doing, what are ya doing? [applause] Wait, wait. As I go around the room suddenly I hear this voice cry out behind me, "Fired Up!" And I'm shocked. I jump up. I dont know what's going on. But everybody else acts like this is normal and they say, "fired up." Then I hear this voice say, "ready to go!" And the other twenty people in the room, they act like this happens all the time, they say ready to go. I don't know what's going on. So I look behind me, and there's this small woman, about sixty years old, a little over five feet. It looks like she just came from church, got a big church hat. [laughter] And she's standing there and she looks at me and shes smiling. And she says, "fired up!"

Turns out she is a city councilwoman from Greenwood who also moonlights as a private detective -- I'm not making this up. [laughter] And it turns out she is famous for her chant. She does this wherever she goes, she says "fired up!" and everybody says "ready to go, ready to go." So for the next five minutes she proceeds to do this, "fired up" everybody says "ready to go." And I'm standing there and I'm thinking that I am being outflanked by this woman here. She's stealing my thunder. I look at my staff, they shrug their shoulders, they don't know how long this is going to go.

But here's the thing, Virginia -- after a minute or so, I'm feeling kind of fired up. [applause] I'm feeling like I'm ready to go. So I join in the chant. And it feels good. And for the rest of the day, even after we left Greenwood, even though it was still raining, even though I was still not getting big crowds anywhere, even though we hadn't gotten the endorsements of the people we were hoping for, somehow I felt a little lighter, I felt a little better. I'd see my staff, Id say, are you fired up? Theyd say we're fired up boss, are you ready to go?

Heres my point, Virginia -- that's how this thing started. It shows you what one voice can do. One voice can change a room; and if a voice can change a room, it can change a city; and if it can change a city it can change a state; and if change a state, it can change a nation; and if it can change a nation, it can change the world! Virginia, your voice can change the world tomorrow! [applause] In 21 hours, if you are willing, if you are willing to endure some rain, if you are willing to drag that person you know who was not going to vote to the polls, if you're willing to organize and volunteer in the offices, if you are willing to stand with me, if you are willing to fight with me, I know that your voice will matter.

So I've just got one question for you, Virginia. Are you fired up?
Are you ready to go?
Fired up?
["Fired Up!"]
Ready to go?
["Ready to Go!"]
Fired up?
["Fired Up!"]
Ready to go?
["Ready to Go!"]
Fired up?
["Fired Up!"]
Ready to go?
["Ready to Go!"]

Virginia, let's go change the world. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
This transcription was given in the video summary but was reformatted for this post with minor punctuation corrections.

Example #2: The Story of "Fired up! Ready to go!" - Obama for America 2012

BarackObamadotcom, Published on Apr 4, 2012

"Edith S. Childs is the one that got Barack Obama fired up.

While attending a small campaign event in Greenwood, South Carolina, then-Senator Obama first heard the chant "Fired up! Ready to Go!".

As then-Senator Obama shared in his pre-election night speech in Virginia:

"After a minute or so I'm feeling kind of fired up. I'm feeling like I'm ready to go! So I joined in the chant. And it feels good.

And for the rest of the day, even after we left Greenwood, I'd see my staff and I'd say,

'Are you fired up?'

They'd say 'We're fired up boss. Are you ready to go?'

I'd say, 'I'm ready to go.'

So some people start putting 'Fired up! Ready to go!' on their shirts. Some people start putting 'Fired up! Ready to go!' on signs. Everybody's saying 'Fired up!' and 'Ready to go!'

It shows you what one voice can do. One voice can change a room. And if a voice can change a room it can change a city. And if it can change a city it can change a state. And if it can change a state it can change the nation. And if it can change the nation it can change the world.

Your voice can change the world."

April 4th, 2012 is the one year anniversary of the 2012 campaign.

Help President Obama stand up for working Americans. Join this campaign now.">"

[revised 11/9/2012]
The "Fired up! Ready to go!" chant is characteristic of African Americans' use of call & response statements in every day conversation as well as in vocal & instrumental music.

There are two types of call & response chants. Some call & response sayings are constructed so that the second part - the response - completes the first part - the call. An example of this is the saying "God is good". Those persons conversant in African American culture know that they are supposed to respond "All the time". I refer to this kind of call & response chant as a "completion chant".

From the video of this chant, "Fired Up! Ready to go" isn't voiced as a completion chant, but an "echo chant". The leader calls out "Fired up!" and another person or the group responds by repeating those same words. The leader then calls out "Ready to go!" and those words are repeated by the respondents. However, it's possible that "Fired up!" "Ready to go!" could also be said as a completion chant.

These two basic forms of call & response chants - "completion chants" and "echo chants" - are also found in call & response vocal and instrumental music. The next time you hear examples of call & response in African American music, in other music from Africa, in the African Diaspora, or elsewhere see if you can identify which form of call & response the vocalists are singing or playing.

How Ms. Child's Performed This Chant
In the video given above as Example #2 -as well as on her guest appearance on the Lawrence O'Donnell talk show on MSNBC - Ms. Child's chanted "Fired up! Ready to go!" two times with the same notes, but on the third & fourth repetition, she used a higher note* to chant the "fired up" line while chanting the "ready to go" line with the same note that she had previously used. Of course, this doesn't mean that this is the only way that this chant can be performed.

*This terminology may be wrong as I'm not a musician. But the point is that her voice went up the third & fourth time she chanted the words "fired up".

Here's a vernacular definition of "fired up"

From What does "fired up" mean [in English]?"

"get started
boot up the computer
load the software

fired up usually refers to get yourself started.

i think its an idiom. phrase used by a culture"
-Barbara, 2007

As documented by their use in civil rights demonstrations and political rallies, chants help to unify the people who are saying those words. And as also demonstrated by their religious and spiritual use, chants help to focus the chanters' attention and help to re-energize them.

Edith S. Childs' explanation of the reasons why she started the "Fired up! Ready to go!" chant during then Senator Obama's visit to her Greenwood, South Carolina illustrates the above-mentioned psychological functions of that chant.

The psychological importance of the "Fired up! Ready to go!" chant is also illustrated by President Obama's points about how that chant's repeated words helped energize him, and how he & his campaign team's subsequently used the "Fired up! Ready to go!" chant to boost their morale.

It's a mark of President Obama's political savvy that he recognized the importance of political chants and the "Fire up! Ready to go!" chant in particular to energize himself and to energize his base.

Update - 11/7/2012 1:30 PM
People being "fired up & ready to go" resulted in the re-election of President Obama & Vice President Biden, as well as the re-election and election of a large number of Democrats. Congratulations!!

As the result of reading a post about this election, I came across the use of the phrase "fired us up". "To get people fired up" means to anger them. People who are angry may be described as having "fire in their bellies". And that "fire" (anger) may cause them to say or do something which may be needed.

An example is what happened in Florida and Ohio as a result of the Republican Governor's and the Republican Secretary of State's efforts to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters. In those states, those officials instituted various voter suppression tactics, including reducing the number of days and hours for early voting. This caused very long lines for voters on those specified early voting days and on election day. The idea was that in doing so, fewer Black people and Brown people (Latinos/Latinas) would vote because such long lines would discourage them. However, Black people and Brown people discouraged from voting, and other people remained in those long lines for three, four, five, and more hours to vote. These people may have already been "fired up and ready to go" (motivated to vote Democratic). But those obvious voter suppression tactics resulted in them being "fired up" (angry) and as a result of that anger, those Black people and Brown people and people of other races/ethnicity were even more determined to go out to vote and remain in those long lines to vote Democratic. My thanks to them!


Click for President Obama Full Speech in Des Moines, Iowa (11/5/12)

Thanks to Edith S. Childs and President Barack Obama for their fired up & ready to go energy, vision, endurance, and commitment to make the United States and the world a better place for all.

Thanks also to the Obama Presidential campaign for producing and uploading this video and for all the other work that they did to help elect then Senator Obama and to help re-elect President Obama.

We are fired up and ready to go!

Finally, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. The comments in my Addendum to this post aren't meant to distract from the importance and motivational aspects of the "Fired Up! Ready to to go" chant.

    However, as a community folklorist, I'm interested in documenting, sharing information, and hopefully promoting discussion about the structure & different uses of call & response chants.

    I also don't mean to imply that what I refer to as "completion call & response chants" and "echo call & response chants" are the only possible forms of chants.

    A non-standard form of call & response chant that I've noticed occurs in a form of children's informal playground cheer that I've named "foot stomping cheers". A signature form of that cheer is that the "call" is actually from the group, and the response is from an individual in the group. The term I use for this form of call & response is "group/consecutive soloist" ("consecutive" because the cheer is repeated either exactly-except for identifying information such as the soloist's name or nickname- or the cheer is repeated with a relatively fixed rhyming lines until every member of the group has one turn as the soloist.

    For more information and examples of "Foot Stomping Cheers", visit this page of my cultural website: