Music for the Soul founder and Dove Award winning songwriter Steve Siler has teamed up with Grammy Award winning recording artist Patti Austin to unveil "We're All in This Together," an anthem of hope for these troubled times. But there is more to the story....
Siler recalls sitting on his couch watching news coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic when he was struck by a sense of déjà vu. The news anchor closed the segment by saying with a heartfelt expression on his face, "We're All in This Together."
The phrase triggered a memory, and the memory triggered a smile. "We're All in This Together." It was the name of a song Siler had written nearly three decades before. And it was a phrase that seemed to take on a life of its own in 2020, as the deadly new virus captured worldwide attention and news programs, and broadcasters across the country began using it as a prescient call for unity.
Siler soon received a call from a friend who suggested he write a song about the virus for Music for the Soul, an organization that uses songs to tackle life's toughest issues in ways that can be heard, remembered, and revisited. Little did she know, Siler had already written it.
Celebrated recording artist Patti Austin performed Siler's song, "We're All in This Together," at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the early 90s at a Hollywood fundraiser. The song was performed for a crowd of 300,000 in Washington, D.C., when the AIDS quilt was displayed, and was later released as the title track on an album with GRP Records. And now, it seemed that God had another plan in mind for the song.
"I thought maybe I should go back and look at the lyrics," Siler pondered. "I couldn't believe it. Every word fit. It was as if it had been written for this time. I reached out to Lynne McCleery, the song's publisher, who had also been hearing the phrase constantly being repeated. Before I got off the phone with Lynne, I received an email from Patti Austin's manager saying she wanted to sing the song again in regard to Covid-19."
Randy Kartchner, who arranged the song when it was first recorded 28 years ago, contacted Siler and offered to arrange and produce a new version of the song, and even volunteered to gather musicians who would donate their time and talents to make it happen. Kartchner recorded the piano from his home in Maryland, musicians in Nashville recorded the rhythm tracks in their houses, while the Salt Lake City-based orchestra recorded three players at a time in multiple sessions stretched out over two days to respect social distancing guidelines. Meanwhile, Patti Austin recorded the vocals in Los Angeles. All the parts were then sent to Kent Hooper in Franklin, Tennessee, for the final mix.
As the song came together, it became apparent that it cried out for a video that should be shared. The call went out for photographs and videos, and the response was immediate and overwhelming. "We received images from as far away as England and Australia," Siler marvels. "A film professor from the College of the Desert in California recommended emerging filmmaker Carli Holland as the video editor, and she combined video and still shots from around the world to create the final piece. This was not a project that we could do alone. In the end, we wound up proving the point of the song--while being far more than six feet apart, we created something extraordinary by working together."
All proceeds from "We're All in This Together" will benefit recovery and relief efforts.
"God knows where a song is going to go even before I write it," Siler muses. "That's why every time I sit down to write, even when it's about a specific topic, I pray that God will help me write the song in a way that will serve all the purposes He has in mind for it. When I wrote 'We're All in This Together' in 1991, I couldn't have had any idea about Covid-19. For it to fit perfectly now is an answer to prayers I prayed then."
It has been the same with "I've Got This," another Siler-penned song.
"I originally wrote 'I've Got This' for people who were having trouble sleeping," says Siler. "Now people are telling me it is helping them find rest during this crisis. In both cases I'm humbled and grateful."
Siler recalls the genesis of the song from his own sleepless nights. "Concerns about the ministry have often awakened me through the years and had me tossing and turning in the night," he confesses. "One early morning after having fallen back to sleep, I dreamed the title and the hook melody, which is a pretty unusual occurrence for me. Only twice in my life have I dreamt words and music together. As soon as I woke up, I raced to the piano in my pj's and wrote the song before I could forget it!"
After experiencing the song's profound effect on listeners during ministry conferences, Siler decided to include the song on his full-length CD, Celebration Table. When a Music for the Soul board member suggested posting an encouraging song on the organization's Facebook page every day for 14 days in response to the pandemic, "I've Got This" was a natural selection. Siler admits to being amazed at the response that one post produced.
"Within a few days, over 500 people had gone to our site to stream the song," he says. "Many wrote to share the song's impact. One person shared, "I believe it is anointed. I listened to it when I woke up in the middle of the night from a bad dream. It calmed me right down and I was able to go back to sleep in peace!" A man whose wife is struggling with autoimmune disease wrote, saying, "My wife and I just listened to your song together. It was very calming and comforting for her. We're going to listen to it together every night before we go to bed." Then I heard from a music pastor at a church in Michigan who does an annual biblically-based series on Mental Health Awareness Month, asking permission to share the song in their worship time during the opening week of the series."
"We know the other painful issues in life haven't gone away during the pandemic," Siler notes. "Many have lost their jobs, and community has been hard to come by."
"To help during this challenging time, Music for the Soul is offering a 30% discount on everything in our catalog from May through August 2020," Siler continues. "To receive your discount, simply apply the discount code mfts5820 when you check out."