The University of West Florida community has responded to a call for songs of impact, to inspire support and lift the spirits of their fellow Argonauts amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, the public is invited to participate in the campus competition by voting on the music, then donating to a UWF cause or initiative.
Visit the "Songs of Impact" web page for details and links to the sumissions.
One of the submissions is a restyled version of “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. In support of Argo Pantry, Khang Nguyen and several fellow students, who joined in online, performed the song.
UWF President Dr. Martha Saunders says the idea for the “Songs of Impact” initiative came up in the early going of the campus closure and shift to remote operations due to COVID-19.
“We were talking about how we could inspire people, keep their spirits up, but also bring attention to some support groups that really help our students, who found themselves in need.
“Hello, my name is Veronica Rosa and I’d like to play this song for the Student Emergency Relief Fund,” says the student on her video submission before starting to sing her original creation, “The Change Song.”
Rosa’s song speaks to their universal experience of being trapped at home, cleaning the house, taking part in multiple Zoom meetings, and binging on streaming services, such as Hulu.
“I remembered that most major eras or social movements have some music or some song associated with it,” Dr. Saunders recalled. “I mean, when you go all the way back to the American Revolution, you have ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy,’ and the song has lived on. In World War I, they sang ‘Over There.’”
Additionally, she noted the Civil Rights Movement and “We Shall Overcome,” and the Women’s Movement with “I am Woman” and other songs.
“So, I said, you know, ‘This is a big enough and significant enough, not just national, but world event; we probably need some music to go with it.”
UWF alumnus Carol Archie also submitted an original song, “Argos Stand Strong,” in support of Argo Pantry.
University alumni, students, faculty and staff were invited to participate in the competition. According to President Saunders, when they put out the call for songs and lyrics, they really weren’t sure what to expect.
“We didn’t know,” she responded with a chuckle. “I don’t know that I could write a song and I thought we don’t know how many are out there, but we had more than 50 submissions - in a short turnaround time - and they’re all pretty good. They were vetted and culled down to 25. I’ve listened to all 25 and they’re awesome.”
The submissions included a wide variety of songs, mostly original works reflecting different musical genres, tone, style, and production value.
“Some of them are very soulful and poetic and some of them will make you want to tap your feet and sing along,” she said. “The winner will actually do a professional rendering of it and play it for the whole world.”
The recording will take place at the WUWF studios.
Additionally, the overall winner will receive a UWF Bookstore gift card, and will be given the opportunity to perform at UWF Homecoming.
Individuals can cast votes for their favorite submissions, once a day, through the end of the voting phase on Friday, June 26. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, July 1.
A reminder, the Songs of Impact entries have a specific focus on the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on UWF students.
Some of those used in this story include, April Kocher, with “Someday After the COVID,” original lyrics to the tune of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Tris Weeks sang “Stick Together (By Staying Apart!).”
Jason Guarjardo submitted “New Day.” Brenda Coleman performed her original, “Shadowland.” “We Can Be” is an original by Tilden and Thapelo Whitfield. In addition to Argo Pantry and the Student Emergency Relief Fund, some submissions were in support of scholarships.
As the voting continues, Dr. Saunders acknowledges that some of the music and lyrics may take on different meanings for different people, in these tense weeks following the controversial death of George Floyd.
“Since then, much of our attention has been brought to issues surrounding George Floyd’s death,” Saunders noted. “So, I’m thinking, I don’t want to speak for my staff, but why not do another round? I mean this has produced some really encouraging music and I would be open to more.”
For more information about UWF Songs of Impact, to listen, and cast your votes, visit uwf.edu/songsofimpact.