Keep On

In 2021, approximately 9 percent of high school students in the US attempted suicide. A heart-breaking number of them succeeded. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people.

That’s what my co-writer, Jay Bryant-Wimp and I were talking about when we sat down to write the song that eventually became Keep On. This was an issue that had touched both of us.

How could music, with its incredible ability to turn pain into beauty and inspiration – how could music transmute that kind of darkness into light? That was our challenge. The result was Keep On, an uplifting song of hope that starts with a simple acoustic guitar and builds to a tumultuous climax backed by a gospel choir.

 A few interesting musical facts about the song: it features an “outro”, which is, as you might imagine, the opposite of an intro, a musical section that closes out the song after the last chorus. (Think of the piano part at the end of classic song, Layla, as a great example of an outro.) The outro also contains an example of “word-painting”, which is a songwriting technique that conveys some portion of the lyrics in a more literal way. An obvious example is a melody that goes up when the lyric says “high” or goes down when the lyrics says “low”. (Friends In Low Places, for example!) For the outro, I wrote a melody that extends the word “on” into a whole musical phrase. The word “on” kept on! Which turned into a pretty melody and a nice way to wordpaint the concept of keeping on. 

And then when we were working out the background vocal/choral parts, which I did with Michael B. Hicks, a super talented keyboard player, musician, singer and arranger, I suggested that we turn that musical phrase into a “round”. (A round is when a musical phrase repeats in an overlapping fashion.) I sang the idea I had in mind. Mike and all the singers sat in the studio control room and looped through the section over and over, gradually building up the part until it became the very cool arrangement we ended up with.

You can see those singers, as well as the rest of the band, in action in this video which we shot while recording the song at the Backstage Studio in Nashville. 

Keep on! ❤️

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