What started as a simple melody, has steadily grown into a full-blown musical message, complete with video, choir, a huge base of supporters and most importantly a cause.
Ross Steed’s song “Take It On” has been introduced to the world, on YouTube, and will be shown to the people of Nelson in a special viewing at the Civic Theatre on Saturday night.
The song offers youth an inspiring approach to facing the challenges of their generation. And for Steed, it’s about more than music, more than performing — it’s about passing the torch on to others and empowering youth.
Steed, a Nelson native, knows something about challenges. For the past 10 years the 54-year-old has been afflicted with Lyme’s Disease and MS.
“These diseases totally rearranged my future. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, and I realized that the future doesn’t belong to me or folks my age. It belongs to our children, and that I have a responsibility to the kids, regardless of my conditions.”
Steed’s daughter, 16-year-old Arianna, prodded him to keep his music alive as part of his healing, which led him to write “Take It On.” Then the young woman helped him acquire a $3,000 grant from Columbia Basin Trust to help fund the writing, arrangement and production of a music video.
“The whole thing started to gel and become a really cool project,” Steed said. “The message in the song is about youth empowerment, empowering youth to take on the challenges of our time. To make the future a better future.”
More than 100 people turned up at Lakeside Park this past October to help create the music video, which was shot over two days.
“It’s amazing how many people just want to help. It was a very busy two days.”
Local screenwriter Robyn Sheppard wrote and directed it and many of her drama students at L.V. Rogers secondary school agreed to appear in it.
After hearing the song, Allison Girvan, director of the Corazon Vocal Ensemble, asked whether her youth choir could participate in the music video. Girvan arranged parts for the 60-voice choir to back up the pop rock message.
“It’s a really potent message and it’s timely. We’re in trouble in this world,” Steed said.
But what happens to his message after people have watched the music video? Steed and his supporters decided that if the message touched young people and inspired them to act, then it was their responsibility to “give them somewhere to go.” With that in mind, they have created the website takeitonnow.com to allow youth to share the message of empowerment.
The new website allows youth to post their own videos and share them with others around the world.
“It will showcase youth-powered documentary shorts of youth involved in or documenting humanitarian activities, community service, social activism, social justice, this kind of thing.”
He said the motto is record, share, inspire.
“Record the action, a video or a song perhaps that’s inspiring, share it, put it on YouTube and send us the link. Then we will create a library of clips to inspire youth.”
He’s hoping his video will go viral, sending the “take it on” message across the globe. In fact, Steed is challenging everyone in Nelson to share the video in the hopes of launching it out to the rest of the world.
The Civic will screen the music video during this weekend’s run of the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. On Saturday, January, 25, there will be a special community celebration at the theatre. Steed will offer introductory remarks at the Civic to thank everyone who helped with the production. A mini-documentary about the making of the music video will also debut the same night.
Jessica Pignataro, assistant manager at the Civic Theatre, said Steed’s project is the kind of local content that the theatre wants to promote.
“What we’re doing with Ross is going to set the stage for something we’d like to offer in the future with the community, presenting short films… We’d like to do more with students who are producing short films and that kind of things,” she said. “It’s a nice touch and that’s what makes it a community theatre, to produce something like this and put it before a big feature.”