Almost exactly a year after John Kilzer’s death at 62 last March, award-winning Memphis director/producer/editor Laura Jean Hocking is seeking friends and fans of Kilzer to appear in a music video for his song “It” from 2019’s Scars — all from the safety of their own homes.
Kilzer, the former University of Memphis basketball player who later created a music career and a beloved ministry at St. John’s United Methodist Church, died Tuesday, March 12th, 2019, before Hocking could finish a series of music videos they had discussed.
For the video, Hocking is recruiting dancers, singers, and Memphis musicians and artists who, she hopes, will film themselves dancing or singing along to “It.”
The method of music video-making is particularly suitable to life in the midst of the soft quarantine to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Dancers can safely participate while observing social distancing guidelines — and still manage to come together via the connectivity offered by music.
“I like the idea of a bunch of different people contributing to the whole piece, creating some connection especially now when we are all so separated,” Hocking explains.
“Love is light, love is strong, love is right here in this song,” Kilzer sings on “It.” The song is warmly optimistic, a balm in these uncertain times.
Though minor chords and a progression that walks the melody down the scale give the song a gravitas that seems to acknowledge the challenges inherent in embracing love, Kilzer’s lyrics are an affirmation of love’s power.
That spirit is lifted up by simple, elegant instrumentation, lighthearted piano runs, and even, at one point, a whistled melody. Life can be challenging, the song seems to say, but love gives us the strength to face those challenges with courage and grace.
“I’ve often said that Kilzer sounds great whether unaccompanied or with a full band backing him,” says Ward Archer, founder of Archer Records and Music+Arts Studio, where Scars was recorded. “In this instance, ‘It’ arrived fully formed via his iPhone with just John playing the ukulele, which I didn’t know he played. It’s classic Kilzer. Less is more.”
“It all goes back to love,” Hocking adds. “I hope if people don’t want to lip-sync, they can dance with their kids or their cat or just by themselves and express some love for life. The world is upside down right now; it’s hard to conceptualize what the other side of this might look like, and it’s scary. Hopefully, the opportunity to ham it up and dance around will be good medicine.”
“I also want to add that if there are any local musicians/artists who would like to participate, we’d love to link to their website/Bandcamp/etc. in the credits,” Hocking says. “It’s really important to me that we all lift each other up right now.”
Hocking has some helpful suggestions for those ready to dance or sing along for the video.
“Set up your phone in landscape mode (that’s sideways, or horizontal),” she says. “Open your camera app and record video. Rehearse it a couple times. Lip-sync to part or all of the song. Dance by yourself, dance with your kids, dance with your pet!” Her last piece of advice is perhaps the most vital: “These are difficult times; let loose and have some fun!”
Submissions should be uploaded to musicartsstudio.com/it-video-release