This song is special to me for a lot of reasons. I brought it in to teach the kids because it was written by someone around their own age. I thought it would inspire them and resonate with them, and it definitely did. Several of our singers have told me that out of all of the songs that we do, this is their favorite.
This is our first time performing "Raise the Bar", at an assembly at Hayhurst School in Southwest Portland:
I told the kids that "Raise the Bar" was written by a 12 year-old girl... but I didn't tell them that she also happens to be my sister! (Though she is not 12 anymore!) Lisa Fitzgerald, singer-songwriter and lead singer of the band Calliope and Cleo, has written hundreds of songs, and I have had the pleasure of hearing them and watching her grow as an artist. She wrote her first song when she was about 9. I think it was called "My So-Called Friend". I still remember how it goes! One of my favorites that she does with her band now is called "Cat and Mouse"-- here, have a listen:
I really love Lisa's music, and not just because she's related to me. She is truly gifted. She comes up with insanely catchy hooks and lyrics that are thoughtful and refreshing. But the thing that I admire most about her songwriting is that she has always written with honesty. She has something that not many people have: the courage to be vulnerable. Though her songs have grown in complexity over the years, she still stays true to who she is and that authenticity makes her a real artist.
Another reason I chose to do "Raise the Bar" with the chorus is that I think the subject matter is very relevant right now. I recently saw a screening of the film The Race to Nowhere, which is currently being shown around the country in small theaters, and which I recommend trying to see.
I thought of this song so much during the movie. Kids need to know that they are not alone in feeling this pressure to be perfect, and that their value as people doesn't fluctuate with their GPA. Though it may be a long road ahead trying to address these problems at the national level, at least in small ways we can help by talking about this stuff with the kids in our lives. I hope that "Raise the Bar" can help bring it to the table, and I'd love to hear any responses here.