The Music of Kelly Van Shaar

The JACL Story & Anthem

~ funky rock ~ 2006-03-23


This is my first commercial project, The Japanese American Citizen's League Credit Union Story. The audio is a rock version I made of the official JACL hymn and is featured during the closing credits on the video.

Lyrics

There was a dream my father dreamed for me:
A land in which all men are free;

Then the desert camp, with watchtowers high,
Where life stood still, mid sand and brooding sky.

Out of the war in which my brothers died,
Their muted voices with mine cried.

This is our dream: that all men shall be free!
This is our creed - we'll live in loyalty!

God, help us rid the land of bigotry,
That we may walk in peace and dignity.

Notes / Back story

Musical notes on the song: I did all the percussion with my voice sent through a guitar effects box.



This was part of my first media production project when I set out on my own. At the time (March 2006) I was working for an audio/video contractor in Salt Lake City, doing an installation on a conference room A/V system for the new central offices of the JACL Credit Union. During the installation I got to talking with the president of the credit union and he told me a little of the story of the oppression of Japanese Americans by our own government during World War II. The JACL credit union was founded at that time to provide banking services for American citizens of Japanese descent who were being turned away by other banks in the country.

It's a sad and tragic chapter in our nation's history, and one that I was ashamed to learn about. The story affected me on a personal level, and I thought, "This is a story that needs to be told and not forgotten." So, I approached the president with the idea of doing a little video documentary to show at the grand opening of the new facility. They liked the idea but said they couldn't pay me much for it. I said that was ok, as I wanted to use it as a demo project to prove that I could do this kind of thing for a living.

After working for about a week on the project after hours while continuing to work my regular job during the day, I realized that the time demands were too great and I could not continue to do both. So, I went into work and gave my notice. I told them that working there had been great, but that I was burned out and was ready to go out on my own in a new direction. After parting amiably, I began my crusade of starting a media production business with no financing, no equipment, no office. All I had was a pretty decent computer with some video editing software and a music writing program. My divorce had been final for about a year and three months (Separated since August of 2004) and I was living in a tiny little rental house by myself out in Magna, Utah.


Financially speaking, there was probably no worse time that I could have chosen to start a business. But, this business was something I had been thinking of doing for many years and I just felt like at some point I would have to really jump in to make it work. My long hours and frequent travel with my current job just would not have permitted it to happen any other way. Also, I didn't have a wife to stop me at the time, so that helped. I felt like it was an important move to allow me the flexibility I would need to be able to spend time with my kids on a regular basis and to have the freedom to take on other large projects as needed. In spite of the severe financial stress and other challenges that it has brought into my life, those good reasons I had for doing this have turned out to be very important.

Only 6 months after going out on my own, my ex-wife decided to move with all the kids from Utah back to live near her parents in Safford, Arizona. I felt it was the best thing for the kids, because she was not doing well on her own. However, Safford is a small town in a rural area where the two largest industries are agriculture and mining. Not a big hotspot for media production. I was not sure if I could make my fledgling business work in such an area, and for more than 6 months I went back and forth regarding what do to. Finally, I just decided that once again I had to throw common sense to the wind and go where I needed to be. I packed up everything and, without a single prospect, moved to Safford.

People still ask me how I manage to find enough work in this area, but I guess it's a combination of being able to do a little bit of everything in this field and putting the rest in the Lord's hands.

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