by Eric Severson
Eric Severson is the author and performer of the song “The Power to Play,” which he wrote to accompany ChildFund’s video and innovative program of the same name.
I have been donating to ChildFund International since I was in college, which is long enough to have seen several of my sponsored children grow up and be replaced with a new set of wonderful and deserving kids.
Through the years, I’ve always been extremely impressed by ChildFund’s sincerity, passion and highly efficient operation. In an age when humanitarian resources too often have been misused, ChildFund has always kept its fundraising and administrative costs extremely low, allowing the children to receive a maximum amount of help. I know it also makes a huge difference to these children to have a real human being providing their support – with a name and face they know – not just a nameless, faceless “donor” in the background.
I am now absolutely thrilled to be able to contribute another side of me – my songwriting and music – to help this wonderful cause. Though most of my songs have focused on humanitarian subjects, it was only this year that I thought to use these efforts directly to benefit ChildFund. What a wonderful insight that was!
Earlier this year, I had written a song called “Children of the World,” which I officially dedicated to ChildFund International. As the words of the song’s chorus indicate, it was all about our tendency toward apathy and indecision in responding to charitable causes:
Children of the world, when will we see
That you are more than just a photograph, or ads on our TV?
Children of the world, will we find a way?
Tomorrow may not come for you, you need our help today.
My favorite part of the song, however, is the “bridge” section, which I see as the essence of what ChildFund International does so well in fostering personal relationships between donors and their sponsored children:
If I could only see these kids, as if they all were my own kids,
I would not hesitate to right this wrong.
I’d reach out to them with my all, hug them tightly close to me,
And wonder why I waited for so long.
This song got the attention of Athena Boulgarides, my regional ChildFund development officer, and we began to talk about what else I might do to help in a more central and impactful way. When Athena explained the “Power to Play” program – and I watched the video of kids building toys – I was absolutely awestruck by the power of this vision and by its obvious results on the children. With encouragement from Athena, I decided to take on the project of writing the music to go along with this powerful video.
The project presented two major challenges. First, though I wanted the music to be hopeful and inspiring – not sad – I didn’t want to gloss over the heartbreaking existence these kids were coming from. It had to be music that made you smile and feel good – but while tears were falling from your eyes at the same time. The music went through a number of iterations before I finally found something that I liked – and there were one or two points in the process where I became so discouraged I wondered if I’d ever find that delicate and elusive balance of emotions.
Second, since the video was not made with my music in mind, I had to work hard to match the lyrics and themes in the song as closely as I could to the actual timing of the video. For this purpose I made a chart of the exact timings of each scene and transition in the video, and wrote the words and music at each point to align as closely as I could with what was on the screen. Because songs need to have predictable structure of verses and choruses and so forth, this was an inexact exercise at best – but with a bit of poetic license, I was able to come closer than I originally thought I could.
I hope the result speaks for itself, and that I have managed to produce something that will make a big difference to ChildFund and its ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of potential donors and sponsors. This is such an amazing and important program, and I feel truly blessed to be a part of it.