Today, in partnership with the Republic Records Action Committee, Black Theatre United (BTU) – a coalition of acclaimed Black actors, directors, musicians, writers, technicians, producers and stage managers who are using their voices and platforms to effect change – released "Stand For Change," the group’s theme song (and accompanying music video) which was written and produced by members of NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions (MPAP) community.
The record and video feature performances by many of the founding Members of BTU – including BTU’s co-founder, singer, actress and this year’s NYU Steinhardt Dean Scholar-in-Residence Vanessa Williams, Lisa Dawn Cave, Darius de Haas, Carin Ford, Capathia Jenkins, LaChanze, Kenny Leon, Norm Lewis, Audra McDonald, Michael McElroy, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Wendell Pierce, Billy Porter, Anna Deavere Smith, Allyson Tucker, Tamara Tunie, Lillias White, NaTasha Yvette Williams, and Schele Williams.
The song was written by NYU Steinhardt professors Dave Schroeder and Phil Galdston, and was produced by Galdston, who is also director of the songwriting program at NYU Steinhardt, and faculty member David Swagg R’Celius Harris. It was mixed by Galdston, Harris, and faculty member Kevin Killen and features contributions from the NYU Chamber Orchestra, arranged by Jazz Composer-in-Residence Rich Shemaria, conducted by NYU Steinhardt Director of Brass Studies Wayne du Maine, and recorded by director of music technology Paul Geluso, and the Broadway Inspirational Voices, arranged by Michael McElroy, associate arts professor and director of diversity initiatives at NYU Tisch. The video was directed by filmmaker Michael Cooke and produced by HunterPark Productions partners Bethanie Schwartz and Lauren Tuttman in collaboration with Liz Curtis.
Like BTU, "Stand For Change" was inspired by the tragic events of 2020 that sparked marches, demonstrations, protests and other forms of activism in support of racial justice in the United States:
“Stand for change!
I can’t tell you how, I can’t tell you when
But we’ll lay this burden down and lift our hearts again
Cause life has one refrain, one eternal flame
Nothing stays the same
So say their names...
Kneel down in righteous rage
And when you stand, take a stand for change”
Vanessa Williams and other BTU co-founders discussed the song at an MPAP-hosted Black History Month event in February. All proceeds from the sale of the record will support the ongoing efforts of Black Theatre United.