WATCH: 300 Musicians Perform in Epic Video While Social Distancing
By BETH HARPAZ
It’s one of the most beloved Broadway songs of all time: You’ll Never Walk Alone, from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel. Now, thanks to a Brooklyn College student, 300 singers and instrumentalists from 15 countries have collaborated on a video of the classic song to lift spirits during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Right now we need to know that we’re all in this together and we’re not alone,” said Harrison Sheckler, the student behind the video project. “I just thought ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was the perfect uplifting song for fighting this invisible enemy and banding together to get through it.”
Sheckler, who’s pursuing a master’s degree in music at Brooklyn College, launched the project in March as Americans began sheltering in place. He posted an invitation for submissions online and heard from singers and musicians from as far away as Brazil and Italy. Closer to home, the Brooklyn College choir and orchestra also participated.
Sheckler first fell in love with You’ll Never Walk Alone as a kid growing up in Iowa. A talented pianist, he was often tapped to accompany singers performing the song at a local college. Later, as a student at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, he played the piece for vocalists in the musical theater program. Sheckler went back to friends from the conservatory for help with the music video, enlisting Josh Meyer and Grant Bayer, now working as studio engineers at Zated Records in Cincinnati. “They spent 30 hours piecing together all the tracks,” he said.
Carousel is considered one of the greatest American musicals of the 20th century. The show about a tragic romance between a carnival barker and mill worker opened on Broadway in 1945, but You’ll Never Walk Alone became a pop hit in 1963 when Gerry and the Pacemakers released it as a single in England. The song eventually became the Liverpool soccer club anthem, and YouTube videos show thousands of soccer fans belting it out at stadium games. The song has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley to Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, and Aretha Franklin. While it’s less familiar to young Americans, the song was recently revived in England, sung to salute hospital workers in the COVID-19 crisis. Barbra Streisand also just released a version to salute first responders.
The song’s soaring message of hope, resilience, and courage “just tugs at your heartstrings,” Sheckler said. It opens with the tender lyrics, “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark,” and builds to a stirring refrain: “Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone.”
Sheckler hopes folks riding out the COVID-19 crisis will feel less alone singing along with his video. “Music is a perfect healing way for people to cope with anxiety and fear,” he said. “And this is something to bring us all together.”