Back in the 1980s, during an historic famine in Africa, a now-legendary group of singers and musicians came together to produce We are the World, which became one of the best-known music videos ever made. It wasn’t the first such uplifting cooperative music video, and the decades since have been filled with others, but this week brought a new local entry into the pantheon – All We Got, from the Big Sunday organization.
According to Big Sunday founder David Levinson, who wrote the music and lyrics for the song, the video was planned as part of Big Sunday’s annual gala fundraiser, which was originally scheduled for March 12. Levinson told the Buzz that he and Michael Skloff, who produced and arranged the song, sang on it, and was among the scheduled honorees at the banquet, “hadn’t done a video in a few years and it seemed like a good time to do it. I’d written the song, and it all seemed like a good fit.”
So they starting pulling things together a few months ago. “We recorded the musical track on an afternoon in January, then the lead vocals and chorus that night,” Levinson said. “We put the first mix of the song together and then recorded the big choir at the Big Sunday offices couple of weeks later. After that, we remixed the song with the additional voices, and edited the video.”
Levinson said, “The making of it couldn’t have been more fun every step of the way,” and it was both a Big Sunday community and family affair. “Just about everyone involved has been involved in Big Sunday some way or another over the years,” Levinson told us. “Staff, board, volunteers, donors (or usually some combo of the above).” Also, “Michael’s son Sam played on the recording. Joel Lipton and his son Ian filmed the whole thing, and Ian edited it. And my son Jack was among those in the big choir (along with my wife Ellie, my older daughter Rebecca, my mom June, and my mother-in-law Lail).”
It was definitely, Levinson wrote in a statement for the video’s release, “a wonderful experience for all involved.”
So everything was set for a big debut at the fundraising gala. But then the coronavirus hit, and almost everything everywhere – including the gala – was either cancelled or postponed. Still, Levinson thought the video’s message was equally important in light of recent developments, if not more so. And also, as he wrote in his release announcement, “A number of people who were involved in the making of this have asked when it was going to be seen. As everything was closing and changing right and left and we all started adjusting to this new normal, it didn’t seem like the right time. But now, it seems that we could all use a little entertainment and a little uplift. (Well, we could use a whole lot of it, but this is a start.)”
So the release was done widely, on YouTube, on March 19…where it’s now available for all to view.
Levinson said the reactions to the video so far have been great. “So far the response has been really wonderful,” he said. “We appreciate how much everyone has enjoyed it and all the nice comments.”
Meanwhile, the staff at Big Sunday, like many of our other local businesses, is now working from home for the forseeable future, but the emphasis is definitely still on “working.”
According to Levinson, “We’re busier than ever…we’re doing everything from virtual events to providing goods to places that need them, to making emergency grants, to writing personalized letters to folks in shelters and group homes. We also have a phone tree where we’re calling both those in the BS community, as well as anyone else people think could use a friendly call to say hello, check in, and break up the day. We’ve also started something where we’re sending dinner to ER staffs on the front lines – docs, nurses, first responders, intake folks, janitorial staff – as a way of saying thanks. So far we’re sending meals to Cedars, St. John’s, County/USC and in the process of adding a few more. (And we’re working hard to make sure we get the food from local mom and pop restaurants that are struggling.) We are taking the sheltering-at-home directive seriously, but there are still loads of ways to be involved and stay connected.”
And also, as usual, yes, Big Sunday could still use the help of as many community volunteers as they can get. “They can sign up for our daily email or check us out on social media for updates,” Levin said. Also, “if people would like to be called or have someone they want us to call, please send me their name and phone number. For sure, if someone wants to make a donation to help with our dinners for ER staffs, necessities like food for people or anything else, they can make a donation at bigsunday.org/donate-now.”
And to get in the mood to help, all you need to do is remember Big Sunday’s motto – “We’re all in this together”…and watch “All We Got.”
“All We Got” Credits:
Music and Lyrics by David Levinson. Produced and Arranged by Michael Skloff
Featuring George Hill, Michelle Mayne-Graves, Chandra Lee Schwartz and Michael Skloff with The Big Sunday Vocal Group plus The Big Sunday Pick-up Choir
Video by Ian Lipton and Joel Lipton