“Rosanna” by Marcus Hummon

Most of you know that Russ and I have been involved with a ministry called Magdalene for many years. It was founded by one of my favorite women on the planet, Becca Stevens, who was also my across-the-street neighbor in Nashville until we moved out to the ‘burbs. Her husband Marcus Hummon is equally magnificent– he is a renowned singersongwriter, playwright, and author. A couple of days ago I got an email with news of Marcus’ brand new cd, “Rosanna”, with a link to Marcus’ blog entry explaining the story behind the title track, and a video of a live performance of the song.

I REALLY wanted you guys to hear it. Marcus chooses not to focus on the politics of a very complicated issue, immigration, but to go straight to the heart of the matter– we are all children of God, and we are our brothers and sister’s keeper…

June 23, 2010

For those of you who have listened to the title track from my new album ROSANNA, you might wonder about the story behind the woman who has taken the spotlight in my latest musical endeavors. The following is a background piece I wrote for Sojourners (www.sojo.net), who describe themselves as “a progressive Christian commentary on faith, politics and culture, that seeks to build a movement of spirituality and social change.” I’m honored to be associated with the great work that Sojourners does in any regard, but especially as it relates to the topic of immigration, my own personal faith, and the stories of people like Rosanna who live out these “issues” every single day.


I came to be friends with Rosanna through my wife’s work. Rev. Becca Stevens is the founding Director of Magdalene, a two-year residential program for women with a history of prostitution and drug addiction. She also founded Thistle Farms, a bath and body care company where the women of Magdalene create all the wonderful products and are employed in all phases of the business.

I heard Rosanna’s story through tears…hers and mine. I heard how Rosanna had been kidnapped, raped and beaten and brought first to Mexico, and later to the US as a sex slave at the age of 14. She showed me the many cigarette burns and spoke of the fear and intimidation…of the importance of crying out while being raped, because the men enjoyed it. When she stopped crying out, they called her a whore. I learned of the misery of years on the street and subsequent addiction and incarceration; also, I learned of her joy at the birth of her daughter.

Through the prison system Rosanna came to Magdalene and began her journey to health and sobriety. At Magdalene and Thistle Farms she was a shining light, bright and hopeful. It was clear that she was going to make it. Imaginative and hard-working she began to build a business cleaning houses, while also gaining clients as a manicurist. Soon after graduating from Magdalene she was able to buy a car and rent a house for her and her daughter.

She was stopped at a light by the a policeman for having a flat tire, and he asked to see her documentation. Unable to provide a green card she was immediately extradited to a prison in Louisiana where she was held for 7 months. Magdalene attempted to find a legal solution and bring her home to be with her daughter, but their efforts failed and she was deported back to Honduras.

In returning to cross into the US, Rosanna faced humiliation, extortion, intimidation and possible death. Her traveling companion, Karla, a young woman who ran with Rosanna for 3 days after crossing the Rio Grande to a spot designated for picking up the refugees, drank water from a farmer’s poisoned well and died calling out the names of her two daughters. We’ve all heard the stories, but the image of immigrant bones gleaming in the moonlight as the group of 13 souls ran through the night…this image stays with me.

Rosanna is a survivor. She tells her story through tears, and one can truly imagine her struggling to stay afloat across the Rio, or pressing on for three days with little water beneath the scorching sun…all to see her daughter again.

Rosanna is beautiful in the most natural of ways. She is unwavering in her faith and believes that God is with her even in the midst of terrible injustice. I have never heard her utter the words, ‘why me?’.

I do not know all the answers to the issues surrounding immigration and immigration reform; but as a songwriter, I am running alongside Rosanna, dealing with the Mafia, swimming naked across the Rio, staring at the border fences and listening to the sound of the dogs barking and the helicopters above, seeing the human bones shine with moonlight, leaning Karla’s body up against a tree and pressing on…I know this is not the America that I believe in. As a Christian, how can we speak of souls as ‘illegal’. The song ‘Rosanna’ is just one story among millions, and we must listen to these stories and look into the faces of those struggling all around us. Only then can we act, speak and perhaps suffer…with compassion.


15 Responses

  1. Busymom

    Dang, I am speechless.

  2. Tweets that mention » “Rosanna” by Marcus Hummon | babybloomr -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tori Taff, megancordell. megancordell said: This puts a face on the issue of illegal immigration. Farmers poisoning wells to keep out immigrants? http://babybloomr.com/2010/06/25/3449/ […]

  3. albert

    Marcus.. a beautiful song. Really moved me. As both a Christian (can I still be one of those?) and as an earthling.

    I really believe most Americans have nothing but sympathy for the Rosannas of this world, and do not consider her “soul illegal”. The fight is to keep the last stand for freedom, America, intact. It is under serious attack from within. If we go down, prey to some Communist/Marxist utopia, where will Rosanna go then?

    There will be so many more Rosannas. And you won’t be allowed to sing about her.

  4. Lisa Strickland

    This is great! I couldn’t get it to play on my computer, but eventually able to on my iphone…poor connection inside today.
    At any rate, I love it! Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. jonny

    Thanks for sharing your piece, Albert!

    FWIW, I now have a new phone and more mega bits. It was a real treat being able to view the video straight from the phone for the first time. Oh, no iphone though. A Nokia N97-mini.

  6. MostlySunny


    albert – Well said.

    jonny – new phone and more mega bits. Yea!!!

  7. LindaB

    Well goodness. Rosanna’s story breaks your heart, doesn’t it? And I’m sure there are tens of thousands more stories just as tragic. “What would Jesus do?” becomes more and more complicated in our world. It’s like we’re on a life raft, full to the limit, and here comes more and more drowning people. If we let more on, we’ll all drown. And the number of folks drowning and asking for help is limitless. I don’t know the answer. God help us. God help us find an answer.

    Even in Heaven, some are turned away. This is all depressing.

  8. LindaB

    What are “mega bits”, and are they different from “mega bites”?

  9. LindaB

    Beautifully written and sung, though.

  10. jonny

    Yes, mega bits are different. I still use my phones as modems for my computer, plus go on-line with the phones themselves. My old phone, and contract, had a two mega bit connection, new one has a five mega bit connection. Not sure what a mega bit is, though. I believe it has something to do with how powerful the on-line connection is.

    jonny – who’s still haunted by people poisoning other people through their wells, and getting more and more used to the fact that there is so much we tend to keep Christ out of, including that which supposedly bares His name.

  11. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Oh dear, this hurt my heart. When someone like Roseanna has proven herself and is vouched for by the House you are dedicated to (I can’t remember the name right now), anyway, I believe there should be some exceptions. People should not be herded into a group and then sent back to their native country. I feel each case should be looked into and then a decision made regarding whether they will stay or go back.

    Anyway, the story hurt my heart and the song was so touching.

  12. jonny

    Happy 18th Madi Rose!!

  13. rachelbaker

    Heartbreakingly awful story told eloquently and powerfully. It is so good to hear Christians who feel strongly enough about this to a)show the love of God to people and b) speak out in the hope that others will find a new perspective.

  14. jonny


  15. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Happy 18th Birthday, sweet Madi!!!!

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