About the Project
In June, Incoming Conference President Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer invited mayors to participate in this very special City Song Project – the local production of a song that will represent and uplift your community. Mayors chosen for the project were based on – strong mayoral leadership, a committed local arts agency, and a wide variety of artists and musicians in your city; and, feature a good representation of their region’s music genre and diversity. The project is modeled after Louisville’s highly successful and proclaimed “Lift Up Louisville” which brought together musicians and artists from the city’s diverse music scene to raise money for the city’s COVID-19 response fund. The City Song project is comprised of seven city-unique songs released locally which have been compiled into one City Song Collection. Two additional songs will be added to the collection later this fall.
This project was produced in partnership with Americans for the Arts with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Lift Up Louisville
In March of 2020, local musicians and musicians with ties to the City of Louisville contributed to the creation of “Lift Up Louisville,” a song intended to lift the spirits of Louisvillians and remain connected during this time of stay-at-home orders while also capturing what it feels like for the community in this unprecedented moment in history. Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams and cellist/composer/producer Ben Sollee led the team that was intentionally representative in genre, race, gender, and age. “Lift Up Louisville” was released, in both audio and music video, to the world on April 27.
Sweet Home Chicago
Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot was the first city to contribute a song for COVID-19 Artist Relief and assistance. When the COVID-19 pandemic closed theaters and venues, putting an unprecedented financial strain on the thousands of actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and other performing artists, an all-star line-up of Chicago natives and stars who launched their careers in the Windy City, came together to perform the Blues anthem, Sweet Home Chicago. Featuring an ensemble of more than 100 participants, all with deep ties to the Chicago performing arts scene, the star-studded celebration of Chicago and its rich, diverse performing arts community helped raise money for the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund.
Heartbeat to Heartbeat, Eye to Eye (From Reno with Love)
Created to assist performing artists adversely affected economically by COVID-19, Reno Mayor Hilliary Schieve contributed to the collection with Heartbeat to Heartbeat, Eye to Eye (From Reno with Love), a song created to help keep residents’ spirits up during the fight against COVID-19 and maintain a sense of connectedness, even at a time of necessary social distancing. Through her role as Chair of Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment, and Sports (TAPES) Standing Committee, Mayor Schieve enthusiastically accepted Mayor Fischer’s challenge to uplift The Biggest Little City through the arts.
Glory featuring IndigoYaj and Kid Jay
During the project, many of the cities began to experience social unrest and calls for justice following the murder of George Floyd, and the scope of our project broadened to reflect themes of social injustice and police brutality. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan contributed to the collection with the Detroit Youth Choir (DYC) new version of the Academy Award-winning song “Glory” from the film Selma. The recording represents an effort to support the Black Lives Matter Movement. The song “Glory” (written by John Legend, Common, and Rhymefest for Selma) serves as a powerful anthem and features rap lyrics created by former DYC members and rapper IndigoYaj and Kid Jay.
Walk With Me Austin
Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s Walk With Me Austin is also a reflection on this moment and is an anthem to unite the community during these difficult times of change. As the “Live Music Capital of the World”, the city of Austin saw how their collective voices were needed to inspire its citizens to work together and protect each other. The song represents the diversity of people, talent, and musical genres in Austin. It acknowledges the challenges they are facing and serves as a symbol of hope to inspire the community to imagine and work towards a better future.
Cha Cha Charleston
“Cha Cha Charleston” from Mayor John Tecklenburg features 45 musicians from the area performing an upbeat dance song in socially distanced locations. The song was meant to unify Charleston and shed light on the talented local music scene in the middle of a global pandemic.
Oklahoma City, OK
The Artivists of OKC worked with Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt to release “Unity OKC” which provided an opportunity for the local artists and musicians to come together to express art activism through solidarity with Black Lives Matter and support for immigrant and indigenous communities.
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans and Bourbon Street Parade
New Orleans, LA
You Belong Here
In March, the City of Burnsville launched a creative song competition in partnership with a local organization, THE GARAGE. The contest invited local musicians and vocal artists to create original songs with a Burnsville theme. The song lyrics of each submission required the name ‘Burnsville’ and the phrase ‘You Belong Here.’ The contest aimed to highlight local talent, foster community through creativity, celebrate the City’s new brand ‘You Belong Here’, and promote our culture of inclusivity. After three rounds of judging and a tie-breaking vote, residents Ben and Shannon Honken beat out the competition and created Burnsville’s You Belong Here.