“Black people didn’t create this situation we find ourselves in, therefore, it can’t be on us to change it. It’s going to be down to all of us.” David Oyelowo, Actor – as Dr Martin Luther King Jr in 'Selma'.
These are the words that inspired us to take action.
Imagination, along with our partners at Yessian Music and members of the Detroit creative industry are proud to come together to stand up, be counted and help our community's youth tell their story to the world. It is a story that deserves, and needs, to be heard.
USA Today feature
for President Biden, Vice President Harris & Barak Obama
A year of reckoning
2020 was a year of reckoning for America. It was the year that so many of us decided to stand up against racism and to demand justice. It was also the year that made the Imagination team ask ourselves a simple yet bold question: How might we support the call for racial justice – but do so in a way that gives the power to the black youth of Detroit to tell their own story, in their own words?
A call for positive change
Then it struck us. The film Selma featured a stirring and powerful song called Glory. What if our agency Imagination helped to create an equally compelling but new version of that song - a version that raised up the voices of black youths across America in the fight to end racism? Our goal was to highlight the plights faced by the black community and speak directly to the hearts and minds of all Americans with a call for positive change. The Detroit Youth Choir (DYC) was the perfect partner for this vision.
Working with the Detroit Youth Choir
We were lucky enough to know DYC thanks to a previous collaboration on a piece of client work. In talking with the DYC leadership we learned the kids in the choir were frightened by what they'd been seeing on TV. In addition to the trauma of seeing black people being brutalized in front of their very eyes, they were also experiencing the devastating impact that COVID-19 was having on their friends and family.
Filming took place across Detroit in late June 2020, with a multicultural team, all-female producers and situated around various Detroit landmarks. The choir recorded a key portion of the song in a large church in Detroit so they could appropriately social distance while singing, and at the same time benefit from the acoustics and ventilation of the expansive church. The initial filming was followed by smaller recording sessions at Yessian Music Studios.
Though we had no budget, we did have a solid idea, and an inspirational group of kids with a strong sense of purpose who we could all stand behind. So we called upon the Detroit creative industry to help us out, and when we explained what we were trying to do, the goodness of our colleagues’ hearts shone through. Within days we had pulled together a pro bono team alongside our major music partner, Yessian.
We collaborated with a former member of the DYC, rapper IndigoYaj (real name Jayla Smalls) to write the lyrics for our reimagined song. And we made a commitment to her upfront that we would not edit or censor her lyrics in any way - she had our full support to say what needed to be said. We chose to create the new version of ‘Glory’ pro bono to give the young people of the Detroit Youth Choir a platform to share their voice, from their own perspective, and the result was we inspired millions across America, including President Biden and Vice President Harris along the way, as we all work together to call for the change we want to see to racial equality and justice.
Interested in learning more?