A UMNS Report
By Susan Hogan
UPDATED 12:30 PM EST | Jan. 19, 2010
"We will rise once
From the place that we're in.
Hand in hand with faith we will stand
And with God as our guide, side by side
Together we will rise.”
--“We Will Rise”
wanted to give hope to Haiti.
First, he donated money.
Now he's donating a song.
“We Will Rise," a song he
composed, is being used in a music video to
raise funds for Haiti through the United
Methodist Committee on Relief.
"It's a song that's meant
to inspire people in the midst of all the
hopelessness and despair," said Youngblood, 48,
of Raleigh, N.C. He leads music for The
Gathering, a contemporary service at Edenton
Street United Methodist Church.
On Monday, the downtown
church of 4,200 members was bustling with dozens
of volunteers putting together health kits for
Haitians. Youngsters colored pictures to send to
"People are putting to use
the gifts that God gave them in any way they can
to help the people of Haiti," said the Rev. Ned
Hill, the church pastor.
Music often brings comfort
to people in a way that words can't, Hill said.
Youngblood's song, combined with images from
Haiti, make a powerful video, he added.
"This is music that will
lift up anyone who is suffering and being
challenged by life," said Rozlyn Sorrell of
Garner, N.C., a classically trained vocalist who
participated in the recording.
Youngblood is answering
phone calls from across the country - and even
Canada - about the song.
"People seem surprised that
I'm giving out the sheet music and the choir
tracks," Youngblood said. "Everything is free.
This is what I can do."
UMCOR hopes video watchers
will be inspired to donate to its Haitian relief
Youngblood wrote the song
after Hurricane Marilyn slammed into the Virgin
Islands in 1995. He lived in St. Croix at the
"On the day before the
hurricane, people were boarding up windows and
buying up candles," he said. "I bought a piano."
He wrote the song by
candlelight with his children in tow. He rounded
up a couple of dozen children from the island
for the first recording.
The song resurfaced after a
cyclone devastated Myanmar in 2008.
The version being used by
UMCOR was recorded using North Carolina talent
after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Youngblood
tapped college students, high school students,
professional singers and children from various
churches to sing.
He said his sister, a
former producer for Oprah Winfrey, put together
the music video after Haiti's earthquake last
week using photographs from the scene.
Another singer -- Janice
Fletcher, 45, of Rolesville, N.C. -- said that
people in Haiti are facing a tragedy beyond what
most people can comprehend.
"We want them to know that
they are not forgotten," she said. "We want them
to know that we are rallying behind them."
*Hogan is a freelance
writer based in Chicago.
contact: David Briggs, Nashville, Tenn., (615)
returned from sleeping on the streets with a
family in Haiti. His translator during a
weeklong recording project which reached several
orphanages, a young man orphaned since very
young, by the name of Job Severe is
bringing this song of hope to the entire nation
of Haiti. Having been raised in Hands and Feet
, Job is now determined to give back through
this song, recorded in his orphanage and a few
others in Port-au-Prince. The Creole version, "Naleve",
is now heard everywhere! Haitian stations in
Boston, DC and Miami are playing it as well.
Produced by well known Haitian artist Carly
Joseph of Alabanza, Naleve is the first video to
emerge from Haiti post January 12th. Job had his
school, and dreams for doing video destroyed in
the earthquake, but not this song.
It now permeates the side streets on large
trucks rigged with PA systems, small wind up
radios in tent cities, it graces the tongues of
the kids at Orphanages in Port-au-Prince, and
its on the airwaves of stations all over the
country. They are calling it the "We Are The
World" of Haiti. All of this is happening
because a dedicated young man has a vision to
inspire hope in his country one song at a time.
Still in one Peace,
Director of Contemporary Worship
Edenton Street United Methodist Church
Raleigh NC 27603
Youngblood, currently living in Raleigh, NC, is a
worship musician and songwriter who was on the very
first Heart Sounds International team to Tunisia in
1999, and has participated in other HSI projects.
mid-90s, Stefan lived in the Virgin Islands and was a
music teacher in St. Croix. In early October 1995
Hurricane Maryland devastated islands in the Caribbean.
Stefan wrote a song during that event to inspire hope.
That song had a huge impact on the island of St. Croix.
The song had extensive airplay, and government officials
sent Stefan and his elementary school students to
another island to encourage other disaster victims.
has decided to use the song again to inspire hope so
needed by the current victims of Hurricane Katrina.
It dawned on him suddenly to
do this while searching his
files for some materials related to a job application.
A few phone calls later; he had a producer committed to
prepare an updated arrangement. Stefan’s brother
offered to fund Stefan’s costs to do the project.
Stefan’s sister, a former producer for Oprah, and now a
TV executive in Seattle, is ready to contact friends in
the major broadcasting networks including ABC’s Good
Morning America. Peggy Tatum, Publisher of TCP
Magazine has agreed to handle public relations.
idea is to get people to sing on the recording via the
recording tools built into Windows that they can email
to him, as well as use HSI engineers who have field
recording experience using battery-powered equipment to
find ways to perhaps get disaster victims on location in
the region to actually sing on the recording as well.
Following is the newspaper article that came out Friday,
October 6, 1995, in The St. Croix AVIS newspaper, page 3
during Hurricane Maryland. The original includes a
picture of Stefan with the school children who made the
Hurricane Maryland Inspired Song Has Calming Effect on
darkness after Hurricane Maryland while Virgin Islanders
trembled with fear at the drenched destruction all
around, one song breathed hope, back into the territory.
“We will rise,” composed by Stefan Youngblood
of St. Croix, was recorded with the voices of local
children four days after mighty Marilyn swept through
first aired on Holland Redfield’s evening talk show on
WJKC-FM. Residents responded with overwhelming emotion
to the song that begins:
In a time when fear may surround me
When storm winds have raged through the lands
And despair seems all that the eye can see
There’s a shelter called hope where we can stand.
And no storm can blow this hope away
For the past has taught us that we can say
We will rise once again.
Redfield said he dedicated the pilot broadcast to all
the hurricane-hit people who were “at the end of their
was a highly inspirational piece, and the timing of it,
because of the effort to rebuild, and the frustration,”
said Redfield. “And because youngsters did it at the
height of a disaster. It really was a reflection of the
character of the people of the Virgin Islands.”
Youngblood, music teacher at Charles Emmanuel Elementary
School, recruited about 30 of his current and former
students to record “We Will Rise.” The group
rehearsed briefly in the Charles Emmanuel music room
Tuesday, Sept. 19, then taped the next day on a
four-track recorder powered by generator.
sounds a thousand times better live,” said singer John
Richter, a senior at Country Day School.
Despite less-than-perfect acoustics in the school music
room, six hours of the group’s sincere efforts resulted
in a song that inspired Virgin Islanders to rise above
catchy little tune has a “We Are The World” flavor and
islanders can be heard singing along,” said a public
relations officer for the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA). “These kids have plenty of talent and
will go far with the right support.
time of production, ensemble members said they were
unaware “We Will Rise” would effect V.I. residents so
thought it was going to have some impact, but this is a
lot.” Said Claudia Graham, a Charles Emmanuel fifth
grade teacher who participated in the recording project.
knew people would hear this song,” said John H. Woodson,
eighth-grader Gricelyz Rivera. We could encourage
people. Give hope.”
officials said they will use the original recording of
“We Will Rise” as background music for a slide show
illustrating the territory’s disaster recovery efforts.
The song will also be broadcast on the Virgin Islands
Croix readers continue to request copies of the Sept. 29
AVIS, in which the words to “We Will Rise” were printed
on page eight in a letter to the editor.
Koenke, assistant Tourism commissioner for St. Croix, is
considering the production of a “We Will Rise” music
video “to demonstrate the resilience of Virgin
Islanders,” Redfield said.
think it’s a beautiful song, but most of the credit goes
to Stefan,” said singer Jesse Herold, a Country Day
proficient writer of Christian songs, Stefan Youngblood
said his inspiration stems from his love of children and
his relationship with God.
think that’s where I find my reason to find hope,” said
Youngblood. “I take my faith seriously. I think it
gives these young people hope in more than something
than just what they can see. The soul of a person
needs to have hope. It keeps us going.”
of the original recording of “We Will Rise” are
currently available for five dollars each in the main
office of Charles Emmanuel School. All proceeds
benefit the school’s choral program.
means everything to see the kids accomplish something,”
Youngblood said. “When I met with the kids I teach, they
were beaming to know that they had done something that
they can feel good about. They were beaming to
know that they took part in a project that has
positively affected the Virgin Islands.”