After a group of students from Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School crisscrossed the nation this summer on their “Road to Change” tour, they will now lift their voices before the November midterm elections on an inspiring collection of songs titled Raise Your Voice: The Sound of Student Protest.
The 11-track album, due Oct. 5 through the nonprofit Little Village Foundation, features new songs and spoken-word pieces composed and performed by the students of the high school that was the site of a deadly mass shooting in February that left 17 students and teachers dead.
Proceeds from the album recorded in response to that shooting and other deadly assaults at schools across the nation will be donated to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety organization. On the day of the album’s release, the students will perform live at San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival on Oct. 5. Among the songs included in the collection is “Shine,” the soaring, inspirational track written and performed by students Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Peña and others at a CNN town hall in February, just weeks after the shooting.
“The courage of these students is amazing. Everyone participating on the album is incredibly talented and their hearts are filled with love for their fellow students,” said Little Village Foundation founder Jim Pugh in s statement announcing the release. “Raise Your Voice is a cross-section of America. It includes young artists standing up from Morro Bay in California to a music class in New York City, but it’s very focused in its sense of purpose. Raise Your Voice features a wide range of students who want to share their music at such a critical moment in our country. Raise Your Voice gives them an opportunity to have their voices out there, and to encourage other students to rise up. These students just want to keep our schools safe, and we feel this music will have the potential to strike at what’s going on in America.” – By Gil Kaufman
You can find some provided descriptions of select tracks below.
Raise Your Voice track list:
“Shine” (Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Peña)
“Raise Your Voice” (Madison Yearsley)
“Save Me” (Tyler Jenkins)
“A Poem for the Fallen” (Saida Dahir)
“Renegades” (Amalia Fleming)
“The Truth: We Need Change” (John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School, AP Music Class)
“17” (Ben Soto)
“The Separation” (Ashlyn Flamer and Christopher Doleman)
“Little Princess” (Tyler Suarez)
“Freedom” (Nina Lee)
“We Can” (St. Paul High School for Recording Arts)
— Tyler Suarez was in eighth grade when his aunt Dawn Hochsprung, principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, was killed in 2002. Even at that age, Tyler used music “as a tool to understand life,” and while in New York for the funeral he began writing “Little Princess” with his grandfather, Joseph Cyr.
— Tyler Jenkins contributes “Save Me,” a story told “from the perspective of someone who was taken down in a school shooting, someone whose memory would always live on” — a song about a young person whose dreams were ended, as are too many, with a bullet.
— Madison Yearsley wrote the title track “Raise Your Voice,” which she performed at the March For Our Lives gathering in Seneca Falls, NY.
— “A Poem for the Fallen” was written by Saida Dahir, an African-American muslim who came to the U.S. as a child refugee. Her activism is fueled by her own lived experience. Dahir comments, “Young people are uniting, quickly coming of age to vote, and if the violence won’t end, we will change it.”
— Amalia Fleming pens “Renegades,” which reflects the pressures and anxieties her generation is experiencing with American politics moving in so many unpredictable directions. Fleming debuted “Renegades” at the 2017 Women’s March.
— The John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School’s AP Music Class in Staten Island, NY, wrote the song “The Truth: We Need Change,” which was inspired by speeches from Parkland survivors Emma González and David Hogg.
— 17 students were killed as a result of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The number 17 is referenced in various songs throughout Raise Your Voice, and Ben Soto pens a composition entitled, “17.” Asked to perform “17” at Salt Lake City’s National School Walkout, “17” memorializes those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, naming each one.
— “The Separation” by Ashlyn Flamer and Christopher Doleman was inspired by the social upheaval following the 2016 election, with lyrics taking on issues such as poverty, hate, and the importance of letting people be their true selves. Along with their arts class, Ashlyn and Christopher performed “The Separation” live at a CNN-sponsored town hall during the National School Walkouts in March 2018.
— Nina Lee composed “Freedom” out of the shock that the Parkland shooting could have easily happened at her school. Impressed by the defiant and unifying work of the March For Our Lives, she sang at the March 24 protest in Washington Square Park. “Freedom” speaks to the healing influence of music, and the hope that music is there to help people.
— “We Can” features faculty and students at the High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul, MN, a school where many attendees have been personally touched by gun violence. “We Can” was produced following the Parkland shooting as a structured conversation between characters — one voice supporting the use of guns to fight violence, one speaking against it, and one a neutral observer. Student producer Kendarius Williams explains, “‘We Can’ is meant to convey that ‘there’s something better…a way to resolve problems without using guns.” HSRA students’ activism also extends beyond the studio — they performed “We Can” during the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C.