By Hazel Scott
The United States Army Field Band has enlisted the Alabama State University Choir for a powerful rendition of the song “Stand Up” from the movie “Harriet,” a Harriet Tubman biopic.
The “Stand Up” video, which began filming in 2021, was produced to celebrate Juneteenth, a day linked to a defining moment in American history: the abolition of slavery.
“They (the film crew) did a bunch of drone shots and they wanted to do multi-directional shots. It was cold the day of the shoot, which was a Saturday outside the Hardy Center… For them (the choir members) giving the energy they did over and over and over and over for hours at a time was really a statement about the dedication our students really had to make it work,” said Dr. Kristopher Sanchack, Director of Choral. “It took a day to complete filming.”
Featuring vocals from lead soloist, Sgt. 1st Class Kyra N. Dorn and 35 members of the ASU Choir, the film shows flashes of historic sites, such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, and images of civil rights icons, Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. and the late Congressman. John Lewis, as well as excerpts from today’s civil rights marches.
“Working with the ASU Choir was inspiring,” Dorn said. “Spotlighting what our generation has to offer is uplifting. Their enthusiasm and enthusiasm for the project was motivating.
Dr. Cordelia Anderson, an internationally renowned opera singer and assistant professor of vocal studies at ASU, said she brainstormed with Sanchack to select the music for the video.
“We chose a song that would speak best to our people where we are right now… to speak to our university and our community. We were able to collaborate with all the entities involved to achieve this. That’s how the song ‘Stand Up’ was chosen,” Anderson said.
The song “Stand Up,” Dorn said, is a call to arms for change, growth, and the need to move forward. “It’s a message of hope and inspiration and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Anderson said a call from his colleague, who is an ASU alumnus and serves in the Army Field Band, Staff Sgt. Kennan McCarter, initiated ASU’s involvement in the “Stand Up” project.
“He told me about the possibility of the ASU Choir doing something with the Army Field Band. I said of course. So we were connected by another ASU alumnus,” Anderson said.
Shortly after, Sanchack received an official email from Master Sgt. Lauren Urquhart, who works in the office of strategic communications for the US Army Field Band, inviting the choir to perform with them on a video to celebrate Juneteenth.
“We’ve had ASU graduates in our organization before in our unit… We knew ASU had an amazing choral program. We were in Alabama and… we were hoping to find a band to collaborate with and perform with us in the video. One band member said, “Why don’t you contact ASU.” It was Kennan McCarter, an ASU alumnus who is still connected to the University. We reached out to Dr. Anderson and Dr. Sanchack…who helped us narrow down what we were going to do…basically coordinated everything,” Urquhart said.
Urguhart said the video highlights Juneteenth’s positive message.
“I hope when people watch ‘Stand Up’ they are inspired, that they can look at where we came from and realize that there is still work to be done and that we are in it together. .that the military is a part of that by raising our soldiers and talking about it…that we really care about the importance of celebrating June 19th and honoring the stories of our black soldiers and all of our soldiers…and that diversity is what makes the military such a strong force as it is,” Urguhart stressed.
Anderson noted that it was fitting that ASU was selected for “Stand Up”.
“ASU was founded literally two years after everything that happened with Juneteenth. So it’s a great connection to see how ASU was born immediately after slavery… It’s amazing that our school and our students are part of this project.
Development of another project with the ASU Choir, Urguhart said, is underway.
“We’ll be back in Montgomery in the spring of 2023 and hope, although we haven’t coordinated anything with them yet, to have another chance to meet with the choir to do something,” Urguhart said. “We would also like to bring the choir to DC to perform.”
The link to the video is: https://beta.wipster.