In the midst of a global pandemic, the Shelbie Rassler Youtube video ‘What the World Needs Now’ is proof positive that the power of love & community can triumph over a spirit of fear and isolation.
On March 9th, Boston Conservatory at Berklee student, Shelbie Rassler was first informed that if students went home for Spring Break, they wouldn’t be allowed back on campus unless they quarantined for 14 days. Like most students, she was sad to miss the opportunity to see her family, but no one overreacted.
Two days later, Shelbie was told her school was completely shutting down, and classes would transition to an online format. The looming threat of the coronavirus pandemic quickly became a new reality. College students across America were forced to suddenly pack up their dorms, leave campus and go home –just weeks before graduation.
By the end of the week Shelbie’s school confirmed the campus would not reopen until further notice — and this meant all senior recitals, concerts, musicals and even graduation ceremonies would not be happening.
“For a conservatory of music, this was devastating news,” says Shelbie’s mom, Karen Rassler, of Weston, Florida. “Most of these students have been working on their senior final concert pieces for the past 4 years. It’s heartbreaking.”
But on a flight from Boston to Fort Lauderdale, instead of getting caught up in the spirit of fear and frustration, Shelbie came up with an idea to spread happiness and love –right when people need it most.
Shelbie’s vision of positivity was to produce a collaborative music video with a virtual orchestra for a cover of ‘What the World Needs Now’ composed by Burt Bacharach, & lyrics by Hal David.
After getting the word out on Facebook, Rassler brought together 74 of her fellow students who were excited to be a part of something positive and encouraging. Each artist performed to Shelbie’s original arrangement, and filmed their parts independently using iPhones.
The final video features 41 vocalists, 27 instrumentalists, and 7 dancers. The programs used were Logic Pro X and ProTools to edit and mix the audio, and Final Cut Pro for the video. While Shelbie had help from her colleague Dan Santiago as the Mix Engineer, it was Shelbie who produced, arranged, and edited the video herself. And of course, she had a little help from 74 very talented friends!
Raised in a musical family, Shelbie started playing the drums when she was 8 years old. “She picked up the saxophone when she was in middle school,” says Shelbie’s mom. “By high school she rose to head drum major of a 5A marching band, and really excelled in music composition.
She’s not a prodigy, she’s just an exceptionally hard worker. Her summers were spent training in her field, and by college it was confirmed, Shelbie’s future was in music,” Mrs. Rassler adds.
“We are incredibly proud of our daughter. She wanted to find a way to bring some light and joy to a community of kids whose dreams were being crushed having to give up concerts, recitals and graduation performances. In the middle of a global pandemic, this video has given everyone hope and something to smile about,” reflects Shelbie’s mom.
We couldn’t agree more.
Sonoma Christian Home got to chat with Shelbie Rassler about creating an uplifting music video in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. Publisher & Editor-in-chief, Erica Galindo reports.
SCH: What inspired you to create this video?
Shelbie Rassler: After my last semester of college was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I immediately knew that I wanted to do something special to bring together the Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music community. On the flight home from Boston to Florida, I thought of this video idea and figured it was a great way to collaborate with as many of my colleagues as possible!
SCH: Was your vision to encourage people due to the coronavirus, or were other national issues on your mind?
SR: My main vision for the What the World Needs Now Youtube video was to encourage people to continue creating art and spreading happiness and love–while we need it most! The community of artists that I am lucky enough to be part of is incredibly inspiring and I feel so blessed to have created this project with them.
SCH: It’s pretty cool to see a millennial do a remix of a 1965 Burt Bacharach classic. How did you connect with this song?
SR: Thank you! I was super inspired by Broadway for Orlando’s rendition of the song in 2016 and felt that it was such an amazing message. While the two situations are entirely different and cannot be compared, I felt as though the song transcends all boundaries and has the beautiful power of simply sharing love.
SCH: What was the process like creating the arrangements?
Once I received the feedback of who wanted to be part of the video and what instruments they play/voice parts they sing, I wrote the arrangement to accommodate this information. I knew I wanted it to have a very grandiose feel, as I felt that fit the song and the message really well.
I went through a few different versions of the arrangement before deciding on the final product. I then sent out sheet music and tracks for the musicians to sing and play along to and then they sent their recordings back within a few days!
SCH: How did you find all the various artists to participate?
SR: A simple Facebook post did the trick! I posted a message on my profile on March 14th, asking if any of my friends would be interested in being part of a “Virtual Orchestra” project and the response was overwhelmingly positive!
SCH: The editing is really wonderful. What was your vision for the editing process?
SR: Thank you! My main goal in terms of editing was to have everyone featured in their own, unique way. The editing process was really challenging but I was super lucky to have my friend and colleague Dan Santiago as the Mix Engineer to help in the final stages of production.
SCH: When you were working on the video for What the World Needs Now, did you have a sense that it was going to be something really special?
SR: I truly just hoped the video would spread some positivity to my friends and family. I knew it was special because of the passionate individuals involved and I am so happy it has reached so many people and brought some joy to them during this challenging time.
SCH: If you had one piece of advice for people who are struggling with social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic — what would it be?
I would say that while physical contact has been taken away, human connection has not! With the help of technology, we are still able to communicate and collaborate in effective ways and I would encourage everyone to continue creating, communicating with friends and staying in touch with the people in your life!
SCH: What are your dreams for the future?
SR: My dreams are very simple: to continue creating music with friends and family, and to spread love and positivity through my art.
Shelbie Rassler is a composer/arranger and multi-instrumentalist, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Composition at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music. Her compositions have been played by various orchestras, choruses, and chamber ensembles throughout the country, and she has music directed several concerts and musicals, including Voices, her original musical that was a New York Musical Festival (NYMF) 2020 Finalist.
Recent projects include writing the score for a Lexus commercial and documentary and for Titan, a short film which won the Grand Jury Award at the 2019 Terminus Film Festival, is now streaming on Amazon Prime and is a CMF Cannes Film Festival Official Selection. Shelbie is incredibly honored to be the 2019-2020 Presser Scholar and is greatly looking forward to moving to NYC after graduating from the Conservatory to further pursue her career in music.