A song originally sung by the Pointer Sisters in 1973 is making a comeback, this time by Chicago artists.
From vocalists to musicians, this mission to promote community and togetherness has been put together by Cheryl Reese. We caught up at the Chop Shop restaurant to talk more about how the remake came together during the pandemic.
“All of these people were absolutely wonderful and the best in their craft,” Reese said. “We all worked together, which is the encouragement right there.”
With COVID-19 restrictions, organist Justin Dillard, bassist Junius Paul and drummer Jovia Armstrong had to record their parts separately. But the vocalists were able to sing together.
“They didn’t rehearse at all,” audio engineer Todd Carter said. “So they came in from listening to the original song and sang it all together too.”
While each vocalist has a different connection to the song, they all hope its impact will be the same.
“Some of us old fogies need to be reminded that just because that’s how something has been doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way,” vocalist Tiaybe Bledsoe said. “Every person has a part and can do something, and this song reminds you of that. I can do something, I can add to the change.”
“That’s important that you tap into that gift that you can give to people,” vocalist Ugochi Nwaogwugwu said. “Because that’s that light that you bring here. We have the power, it’s with us. If we decided we’re going to work together, unity is going to bring together the resurgence of community.”
“Just singing the hooks and the backgrounds, you could just hear … we tried to jump into that place where the ladies were in the ‘70s and bring that same vigor and drive,” Tina M. Howell said.
But the remake also has a sombre undertone.
“If you think about it, it’s kind of sad in a way that we still have to use these songs to try to better things,” said Paul, the bassist. “And not just better things internally, but try to put the message out to and put the message out to other people that we belong here just as much, if not more, than everyone else.”
Nonetheless, the creatives involved say they are grateful to use music as a platform to remind people the importance of togetherness.
“I want music to be a healing force, a positive force,” said videographer Christopher Andrew. “Something that promotes community.”
“The thing that makes me play better that, also speaks to community, is when I have help from other people,” said organist Dillard.
“Unity is the way,” Megan McNeal said. “Tribe up, get your people and make some things happen. Yes we can, yes we will, and yes we must.”
“Yes, we can work together,” Reese said. “We can work it out and we came together and created this beautiful project.”
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.