Help For Haiti Relief Project

We Will Rise

By Stefan Youngblood


 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.

From the place that we're in

Hand in Hand with faith we'll stand

And with God as our guide

Side by side

Together we will rise.



Nothing can tear apart unity

When everyone looks to one goal

And trials can bring opportunity

To give from your spirit and soul

When troubles seem long

We must kneel and pray

Thank God for the breath of a brand new day



So work with all your might

Don’t give up the fight

We will rise and build back these islands

We will rise and bring back the land.



A UMNS Report
By Susan Hogan
UPDATED 12:30 PM EST | Jan. 19, 2010


"We will rise once again,
 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”


Stefan Youngblood 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 Haitian children.


"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 effort.


Youngblood wrote the song after Hurricane Marilyn slammed into the Virgin Islands in 1995. He lived in St. Croix at the time.


"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.


 News media contact: David Briggs, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or



Current update:


 Youngblood just 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 Orphanage ( , 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,

Stefan Youngblood
Director of Contemporary Worship
Edenton Street United Methodist Church
Raleigh NC 27603


Stefan 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. 


In the 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.


Stefan 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.


The 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 recording. 


Hurricane Maryland Inspired Song Has Calming Effect on Disaster Victims


In the 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 the islands.


It 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 ropes.”


“It 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.”


Stefan 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. 


“It 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 despair.


“The 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.


At the time of production, ensemble members said they were unaware “We Will Rise” would effect V.I. residents so profoundly. 


“We 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.


“We knew people would hear this song,” said John H. Woodson, eighth-grader Gricelyz Rivera. We could encourage people. Give hope.”


FEMA 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 Recovery Network.


St. 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. 


Jerry 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.


“I think it’s a beautiful song, but most of the credit goes to Stefan,” said singer Jesse Herold, a Country Day senior.


A proficient writer of Christian songs, Stefan Youngblood said his inspiration stems from his love of children and his relationship with God.


“I 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.”


Tapes 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. 


“It 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.”  


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