AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dozens of Austin’s beloved artists have come together to create a song and music video which premiered Thursday afternoon, aiming to bring inspiration and unity to the Austin community during what has been an indisputably difficult time. The project is called “Walk with Me Austin” and all purchases will benefit the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, or HAAM.
The music video premiered on a live YouTube event Thursday followed by a conversation with Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Huston-Tillotson University President Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, co-producer Brittany Robinson, and artists Arian Quesada, Tee-Double, and Gina Chavez.
A summary of the event sheds some light on the project, stating, “while cities across the nation mourn the myriad uncertainties of 2020, more than 45 native and resident musicians from Austin, Texas have joined forces to produce ‘Walk with Me Austin,’ a powerful anthem created to inspire and unite the City of Austin during a pivotal time in the U.S.”
The video and song are intended to “bring hope” to Austin while also “addressing matters of social and racial injustice, civil unrest, equality, and the global coronavirus pandemic.”
The song, which is already on Bandcamp, clocks in at a groovy five minutes and forty-one seconds, encompassing the sounds of a variety of genres during the song, from rock to salsa to jazz to rap.
The lyrics evoke collective optimism, emphasizing:
We will rise
Rise in this together, if you walk with me
We will Rise
Rise in this together, if you walk with me
The music video features plenty of Austin artists and places, all edited together to sound as though all the voices were in the same room. The video also offers glimpses of the “Black Austin Matters” mural, the “We Can’t Breathe” mural to Black victims of police violence, the faces of healthcare workers, and the downtown Austin skyline.
Who’s on the track
When you listen to the song, you’ll hear Austin artists such as Magna Carda, Tee-Double, Adrian Quesada, Sam Houston, Gina Chavez, Mélat, Kelsey Wilson, Tameca Jones, Jim Eno, Shakey Graves, Jackie Venson, Blackillac, Abhi the Nomad and Tiarra Girls.
Reactions to the project
Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President of Huston-Tillotson University said in a live chat following the video premiere that the music video overwhelmed her so emotionally that “it makes me weepy every time I see it.”
“It’s a phenomenal song, I see a lot of that imagery [seen in the video] on my daily commute,” she said.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the video and the song are “so far beyond the vision” that he had when he instigated this project back in the spring. He said the idea got started when the Louisville mayor did a similar project with local artists and challenged other mayors to do the same.
Adler said the project was then handed over to Austin artist Arian Quesada to manage in early April. At that time, Quesada recalled that the COVID-19 pandemic was still very early on. It was also prior to national movement for police reform and racial justice that came in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Quesada said early on the project was focused around, “lifting people’s spirits up from having to deal with a global pandemic.”
But as conversations about race and equity grew more central, the musicians involved in the project decided they wanted their song to reflect that as well.
“We really had to look around at everything else that was happening and not gloss anything over,” Quesada said.
From there, Quesada recalled a “frenzy” of reaching out to people to get them involved in the project.
Austin artist Tee-Double said he got involved because “I want to be part of any project that benefits Austin Music.”
“This shows the diversity of Austin music from hip hop to rock to salsa to jazz,” Tee-Double said. “It’s really gonna be a boost for morale for musicians locally.”
Austin’s renowned music scene has been severely impacted by the pandemic, with many in the music industry unable to work and many venues unable to make ends meet. At the video premiere Thursday, Mayor Adler said that the city is trying to “tee up an economic development corporation” that can help out musicians and venues specifically.
Adler said, “the arts community really lit a fire under the council” to extend more lifelines to Austin’s music scene, adding that he is optimistic the council will be able to approve items at their meeting next week which gets that ball rolling.
Who’s behind the project
The song was written by a host of respected Austin artists including Shakey Graves, Mélat, Sam Houston, Magna Carda, Blackillac, Kelsey Wilson, Gina Chavez, Alex Maas, Tee-Double and Adrian Quesada.
The video was directed, filmed and edited by Spencer Gilliam. Adrian Quesada produced and mixed the project and it was recorded at Electic Deluxe Recorders in south Austin, which he owns. The project was mastered by Eric Wofford.
Also involved in this project are Austin Mayor Steve Adler and his staff as well as the city of Austin’s Division managers for the Cultural Arts and Music & Entertainment.
Diane Land, Celeste Quesada and Brittany Robinson are also listed as producers.
Austin composing lab Golden Hornet is also credited on the project. Major sponsors on this project include Siete Family Foods, YETI, I Live Here I Give Here, Golden Hornet, Electric Deluxe Recorders and the City of Austin.