REXBURG — When the conductor of the Rexburg Children’s Choir started planning a music video featuring “From a Distance,” he had no idea it would be released during a pandemic and that a pop star would join his 160 singers in producing a powerful message.
But that makes the year-long project even more significant, according to Ben Watson. Watson founded the choir two years ago with children ages 6-17 from across eastern Idaho.
The group has released four music videos in the past but Watson wanted something extra special to come out this spring. He began looking for songs and was impressed with “From a Distance,” a hit made popular by Bette Midler in 1990.
Watson didn’t mention it to his associate director, Sheree Fitzgerald Hastings, but toward the end of a meeting last August, she presented an idea.
“I said, ‘There is a song that’s been on my mind and I think we should consider using it for the music video,'” Hastings recalls. Watson asked the name of the song and she responded, “From A Distance.”
“Ben looked at me with a radiant glow and a big smile. I can still see the surprised and happy look on his face,” Hastings says. “He replied, ‘Really? I’ve been thinking about that same song!'”
Watson commissioned Masa Fukuda, the conductor of One Voice Children’s Choir, to compose an arrangement of ‘From a Distance’ for the Rexburg Children’s Choir. It was completed in January and featured a soloist singing the verses.
That’s when Watson learned pop star David Archuleta was coming to eastern Idaho on tour in April. He contacted Archuleta’s team and found out the singer’s mother had performed in a choir with Hastings years ago.
“For some reason, I still remember the song the choir sang – ‘Un Lugar Celestial,'” Archuleta tells EastIdahoNews.com. “My mom used to sing ‘From a Distance’ when I was little and I remember watching videos of it. She sang it in Spanish with her sisters. It brings back memories for me.”
Archuleta agreed to participate and recorded his audio in a Nashville studio while the choir recorded theirs in Rexburg. Days later, the world changed.
“We were able to record the choir’s audio the week prior to the COVID-19 shutdown,” Watson explains. “Originally the video was scheduled to be in April but we had to dismiss early for the season and postpone it to a later date. We didn’t know when.”
Archuleta’s tour was canceled and the choir could no longer meet in person, but Watson did not want to put the project on hold. So he came up with plan B.
In early July, Archuleta shot his part of the video in Nashville and the choir filmed theirs in an open field in Madison County. Through the magic of video editing and technology, it appears they were all in the same location.
“For me, the journey was as amazing as the end product. I believe this production was meant to be,” Watson says. “The message is so relevant for today’s challenging circumstances. I hope that as people hear the beautiful music, it will bring a little more hope and gladness to their lives.”
For Archuleta, recording the song reminded him of simpler times.
“‘From a Distance’ was all nostalgic to me and so I wanted to do it to get back in touch with those simple fond memories,” Archuleta says.
Watson hopes viewers of the video are touched by its message and despite delays and unforeseen circumstances, he wouldn’t change anything. Hastings agrees.
“The fact that we finished recording all 160 voices exactly one week before COVID sparks me with the awesome awareness that God is in the details and watching over us,” she says. “Take heart, people. Find a place of peace in your soul, even in nature. God has a perspective that we don’t have. Hang in there. He is in charge. Indeed, God is watching us – even, from a distance.”