Even though I have been releasing tracks and albums since 2018, I never considered myself an artist until I started getting responses from people telling me that my songs were resonating with them. To this day, I still think of myself more as a person who loves to spread a positive message. I learned about the power of music to accomplish this when I was a kid growing up in the projects in Boston. From the Jackson 5 and Tavares to Marvin Gaye and The Staples Singers, music was always in the house, and it was a great source of comfort and uplift. My mom and uncles would sing and perform for us and it helped me and my siblings make it through. I can still hear mom singing her favorite, “Natural High” by Bloodstone. It was like her lullaby to us.
Kind of like when I wrote “The Book of UWGEAM,” my spiritual work about love, unity and respecting one another regardless of one’s religious path, I don’t remember the specific moment when the idea for “The Coronavirus” came to me. It felt like it came out of the Spirit in response to what I was seeing and hearing about the coronavirus and how people were reacting to it. Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo on CNN really take it home, and continue to do so, even as Chris battles COVID-19 himself while quarantined. They bring out the truth of what’s going on.
I felt angry about all the misinformation the government was disseminating, and I thought, what the hell, you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna write a song about it. I’m all about taking every negative thing and making something positive out of it. I didn’t have a goal in mind. I just wrote the lyrics and basic melody, teamed with my producer/collaborator with his independent label Viral Records, LLC, and laid it down. I’m just saying and singing what’s real. I start out saying, “You know the coronavirus is spreading everywhere and we have to slow down the spread/So stay inside and don’t go out unless you have to – but let’s keep our senior citizens safe.”
Then, it’s almost stream of consciousness or like me having a conversation with loved ones, covering all the major concerns: “I’m scared right now because doctors don’t have the proper protection/If we don’t stop it, we are heading straight for another bad recession/How we gonna stop the spread if we can’t follow simple directions?” As it continues, I address the brutal reality of people dying, the importance of staying safe and of course the fact that we have to wash our hands, not touch our face and avoid large crowds. I created the music video to further drive the points home with visuals relating to the science of the illness, how society is reacting to it and living in this new reality.
I wake up every day to the latest news about the virus. and I realize that many people are not listening to the authorities and doing what we’re supposed to do to stop the spread of the coronavirus. I wrote the song as a response to that, hoping people will listen to its message and the reality will sink in that this is life and death serious. It’s my way of sharing the reality that this is not something you can play around with, and that we all have to stick together and wait it out until we flatten the curve and find an ultimate solution. We all have to pay attention and focus on human lives so that we can beat this. It is my belief that we should help people not just in the U.S. but around the world. World leaders need to work together to stop the terrible spread.
Despite our many differences, as human beings we are all somehow related and connected to each other. Here at home, we are all Americans, but in a larger sense, we are really all God’s children. I’m asking my brothers and sisters, why are you not taking care of yourself? Why are you not listening to what the authorities who know what’s what are telling us? It’s especially important to get the attention of young people. They’re out there still learning about life and it’s up to us to continually educate them on how serious this is. They need to know this isn’t something that’s just on TV, but possibly in their own backyard. Sometimes music, having a good beat and a catchy chorus, I the most effective way to reach them. It’s called a hook for a reason. Once we produced the song, I listened to it a few times, and that hook is stuck in my head. Now I can’t stop singing it - which is good, because it’s a daily reminder to myself to do all the things I need to do to stay safe.
It occurs to me that so much of what the kids these days listen to in hip-hop music is artists talking about phony lifestyle stuff. My song is like me telling them, yeah, it’s cool if you want that lifestyle, but you should also listen to and create positive helpful messages during this time of great need. You won’t have any of the things you aspire to if you don’t follow these procedures and you die.
When I first wrote “The Coronavirus,” I didn’t realize just how much impact it might have, but now I think it’s one of the best, and surely the most important, song I’ve written. Because it’s the truth about what we’re dealing with, the new reality we are living in and the precautions we must take to stay alive. Awareness is everything, and I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to that in my small way. I’ve always said that God will bless you when He feels you’re ready for it, and this is certainly the case with creating this song.
Listen at soundcloud.com/user-792034936, or reverbnation.com/darrellkelley