On Friday the 29th, leap day, some members of my a cappella group and I did a benefit show called Barackappella at my college in Portland, Oregon. It was so much fun, I wanted to share the story with you.
I support Barack Obama. I am very happy about the phenomenal voter turn out and political participation his campaign for the presidency is inspiring, and I am so excited about what I believe he will do as president. One of the many things I like about Obama is that he inspires action among really diverse groups of people. He inspires different people in different ways, but a lot of us love his speeches. A few weeks ago a group of famous artists put portions of some of his speeches to music, and made a very cool video called Yes We Can. Millions of people have watched it at the original site and also on YouTube, where it was re-posted.
I cried the first time I watched this video, and I know I was not alone. It is so nice to hear a “We” instead of an “I”. It is so nice to be so proud of a person who represents our country as a senator, and who I believe will be our President. Words do matter. I feel empowered when I say “Yes I Can,” and I feel even more empowered when I feel connected to something large enough to say “Yes We Can”. I believe more empowerment and civic engagement would be great for our country, and our world.
Just days after first watching this video, some friends and I wondered if we could arrange an a cappella version. I was already in an a cappella group at my school called MoMo and the Coop, and I knew that most of the other members were also Obama supporters. Long story short, most members of our group and another friend decided to do a benefit concert, and to call our concert Barackappella. Our performance was one of many “Leap for Change” events nationwide. About eighty people attended, including some of MoMo and the Coop’s fan base, and many Obama supporters we had not seen before. Some in the audience were much younger than me, and others could have been my grandparents. The video above is our version of Yes We Can, we also posted videos of the seven other songs we sang that night.
I am the guy with pink pants in the video, in case you were curious. I hope you enjoy it, it was so wonderful for me. By the end of the song my normally confident voice was quivering – definitely a symptom of my strong emotions, not stage fright. The audience really loved it, but I cherish most the proud and excited expressions of my friends who helped build this version of Yes We Can. Thanks guys.
The original Yes We Can speech was phenomenal, and the Yes We Can video is probably a lot more impressive musically, but I think our project is special. We are not famous or powerful, I think we are an interesting bunch, but all things considered we are ordinary Americans. But, we are participating in this movement in a way we would not have for any other politician since we were born. We are participating in our own way because a very inspiring person told us that ordinary Americans could do extraordinary things, and now our YouTube video is getting an awesome ton of views.
It’s been 24 hours since we performed (to the minute…as I write this), and we have already received some pretty awesome press. The Oregonian covered the event in an article that hasn’t been published yet. The Youtube video already has over 300 views and a bunch of great comments. The site that originally published the Yes We Can video linked to us along with other Dip Inspired projects. We have already received a request to perform this song in other parts of Oregon, and I hope we will. I am so excited. I would like to thank Jon Wash (red shirted guy in video)et al. for arranging this piece, Ben Brysacz (leader of Lewis & Clark students for Barack Obama) for helping promote the event, the lovely audience, Wil.i.am (main creator of the Yes We Can video), and Barack Obama, for inspiring all of us. If you hear of any press/publicity that I have not mentioned in this blog, please do leave a comment to let me know. If you like this story, please post it to your Facebook profile, blog, del.i.cious, etc. Please send us an email at momoandthecoop [at] gmail [dot] com for questions or performance requests.
Update: We are now approaching 50,000 views on YouTube and more than 20 comments on my blog here; we really love that people are enjoying the video. Our YouTube fans are leaving some really nice comments, and it looks like we will definitely continue to work on this song, and plan on performing again. A few people have even suggested that we try to sing at the Democratic National Convention. I think people really like that we are just a group of relatively ordinary folk being part of something extraordinary. People seem to be enjoying our efforts more because we are less famous, and closer to the grassy roots – that’s pretty different from traditional campaigns isn’t it? What do you all think? DNC?
Update II: Barack the Vote! Over 65,000 views and we recently performed again at a Barack the Vote rally at Lewis & Clark College. I think Obama is more than popular enough to win Oregon, our great challenge right now is registering voters. I grew up in conservative central/eastern Oregon, and I now attend one of the most progressive schools in progressive Portland Oregon. The Obama campaign is really the first time I’ve been able to talk with friends from school, friends from home, and family, and everyone is excited about the same thing. This movement for change has captured the attention of a very broad swath of Oregon’s great political diversity, and so now we really just need to focus on getting everyone registered to vote (due to Oregon’s mail in ballot, you must be registered by April 29th, 20 days before the actual primary, find more info on registering to vote here).
We were also honored to have Congressman Earl Blumenauer speak about why Obama inspires him. After it was all over we had pizza and doughnuts with the Obama logo on the frosting. It was a fun and I think successful event. Thank you so much everyone for encouraging me and my group to keep being part of the Obama movement.