LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mayor Greg Fischer today presented “Lift Up Louisville,” a new city song that he commissioned as part of his Lift Up Lou movement, launched in early March to keep residents’ spirits up during the fight against COVID-19 and maintain a sense of connectedness, even at a time of necessary social distancing.
The song represents a collaborative effort by Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams, Jim James and Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket, singer/songwriter Will Oldham, cellist/composer Ben Sollee, Scott Carney of Wax Fang, percussionist Dani Markham, hip hop star Jecorey Arthur, gospel singer Jason Clayborn, singer Carly Johnson and several others from Louisville’s diverse and celebrated music scene. Sollee was the song’s main collaborator, and an accompanying music video was produced by Kertis Creative and directed by Stephen Kertis.
All proceeds from the song, which is being marketed nationally, will benefit the One Louisville COVID-19 Response Fund, Louisville’s central source to provide emergency resources to people and nonprofits throughout the community that have been hurt by the pandemic.
Abrams said Mayor Fischer reached out to him as the Lift Up Lou initiative was created, and reminded him that they’d been talking about a “Louisville song” for some time, to celebrate the city’s diverse and extensive musical talent. “Now is the time,” the Mayor said, and Abrams got to work.
Abrams said he initially had no specific idea how to pull off such a collaboration during a time of social distancing. But as he started making calls, “everyone said yes,” and the work began, with nearly 30 contributing music, lyrics and their various creative talents.
The Mayor describes “Lift Up Louisville” as “a love song to my home town.”
“The arts are the soul of Louisville,” said Mayor Fischer. “Our city is blessed with an amazing array of brilliant and compassionate artists who love their hometown. That love is the backbeat of ‘Lift Up Louisville,’ which tells the story of this moment in the life of our city, our country and our world. And the story of this moment includes the countless acts of kindness, inspiration and unity that we’ve seen in our city as people from every background and every neighborhood have found ways to lift each other up. I want to thank Teddy Abrams and his fellow musicians who found a way to collaborate from a distance and bring our city even closer together.”
“We hope that this song provides inspiration and pride for Louisvillians, and that it functions as a reminder that the city’s artists believe in service to their community in addition to performance at the highest levels,” said Abrams. “We’d love to see other cities take this model and build their own songs, creating a quilt of songs reflecting the various musical communities of towns around the world.”
“The release of ‘Lift Up Louisville’ is only the beginning,” said Mayor Fischer. “We will be issuing challenges later this week to cities around the world to produce their own collaborations so we can assemble a beautiful musical montage of this moment in history to remember the way we embraced the arts to get us through the difficulties of this time.”
Available via local independent label sonaBLAST! Records, the song is an artistic reflection and utilization of the online collaborative realm the world has experienced this past month
“I love Louisville’s diverse and collaborative arts scene, said Sollee. “It is one of the many reasons I’ve made my home in Louisville, and I’m proud that we’ve come together to share our affection for our city, its people, and our collective sacrifice to care for each other.”
Kertis said his Louisville-based creative agency was “proud to direct and edit the music video filled with friends about a place we love.”
“We’ve historically been interested in music projects, especially the intersection between music and community,” said Kertis. “’Lift Up Louisville’ hits the mark on both, and we’re really proud to work on this with so many of our talented musician friends from around the state.”
The song was also featured in a piece on PBS Newshour Weekend on Sunday. It described the story behind the creation.
Mayor Fischer and Abrams provided a sneak listen to a snipped from “Lift Up Louisville” on Friday, and will share the full song during a Tele Town Hall this afternoon.
Abrams describes the process of building “Lift Up Louisville:”
“I was very fortunate to have my friend and collaborator of many years, Ben Sollee, join the team as the coordinator and producer of the track. I kicked off the musical work with a piano improvisation that we sent to a core group of musicians, including Scott Carney of Wax Fang, who wrote the first round of lyrics, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and Will Oldham.
“Jim and Will added, swapped, and tweaked the words to get the final lyrics you hear. In another day or so, Jim crafted the melody that grounded the track. Once we had the basic structure in place, we started filling in the band, orchestra, and vocal elements that you hear on the finished track.
“Will added a beautiful duet line, hip hop star Jecorey 1200 Arthur added a rap verse, Jason Clayborn (a brilliant gospel singer from the world-famous St. Stephen Church here in Louisville) sang over the ‘bridge’ section, percussion was provided by Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket) and Dani Markham (Childish Gambino).
“Scott added guitar riffs, and Jacob Duncan played saxophone and wrote symphonic parts for Gabe Lefkowitz, Julia Noone, Kathy Karr, Matthew Karr, and Andrea Levine, Louisville-based musicians who play in the Louisville Orchestra, to perform.
“We were able to reference Kentucky’s legendary bluegrass scene with contributions from Sam Bush, Michael Cleveland, and Cheyenne Mize. Local musical luminaries like Danny Kiely, Carly Johnson, Brigid Kaelin, Daniel Martin Moore, Sharron Sales, Scott T. Smith, and even Raul ‘Rayul’ Lopez, a champion beatboxer, joined the team to create a full sonic landscape picture of Louisville’s music world.
“The song was brilliantly mixed and mastered by Kevin Ratterman, one of Louisville’s great musicians and producer-engineers; this was no small feat given the many musical lines and contributions present on the track!”
To view a complete list of contributing artists, click here.