Two years ago, Ben Watson founded the Rexburg Children’s Choir with children 6-17 from across eastern Idaho. Thus far, the group has released four music videos, and Ben wanted to release something extra special this spring. He was impressed with a hit song made popular by Bette Midler in 1990 called “From a Distance” and began a year-long project of planning a music video featuring the song.
When Ben started the project, he never imagined that the video would be released during a major world pandemic. He also did not know that a world renowned pop star like David Archuleta would join his 160 singers to produce a music video with such a powerful message.
David Archuleta posted the video on his Facebook page on Monday, 3 August 2020. He posted the YouTube link on Tuesday, 4 August 2020, and included the following caption: “My mom used to sing this song when I was little. I used to watch videos of her singing it over and over. It made me feel peace of mind and that I was part of a bigger picture. I loved getting to sing this version with the Rexburg Children’s Choir. The associate choir director, Sheree, was a friend of my mom’s as well when I was young. So, the whole experience was nostalgic and brings it full circle for me.
During a meeting with his associate director, Sheree Fitzgerald Hastings, last August, Ben never mentioned the song that he had in mind for the music video. It was Sheree, who towards the end of the meeting, said, “There is a song that’s been on my mind and I think we should consider using it for the music video.” When Ben asked her the name of the song, she responded, “From a Distance.” She recalls, “Ben looked at me with a radiant glow and a big smile. I can still see the surprised and happy look on his face. He replied, ‘Really? I have been thinking about that same song!’”
Ben commissioned the conductor of the One Voice Children’s Choir, Masa Fukuda, to compose an arrangement of “From a Distance” for the Rexburg Children’s Choir. The arrangement was completed in January and featured a soloist singing the verses.
Ben later learned that American Idol alum, David Archuleta, was scheduled to come to eastern Idaho as part of his “OK, All Right Tour” in April. So, he contacted David’s team and discovered that David’s mom had performed in a choir with Sheree years ago.
David agreed to participate in the music video and recorded his audio in a Nashville studio while the choir recorded theirs in Rexburg. He told EastIdahoNews.com, “For some reason, I still remember the song the choir sang – ‘Un Lugar Celestial.’ 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.”
In the blink of an eye, the world suddenly changed when everyone was forced into lock down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. David had to cancel his tour and the choir could not meet in person. However, the choir was able to record their audio a week prior to the shutdown. Ben said, “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.”
Not wanting to put the project on hold, Ben came up with a plan B. In early July, utilizing the magic of video editing and technology, David was able to shoot his part of the video in Nashville and the choir filmed theirs in an open field in Madison County, Idaho. Once the video was professionally edited, it appears that David and the choir are in the same location.
Ben commented, “For me, the journey was as amazing as the end-product. I believe this production was meant to be. 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.”
David added, “‘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.”
Sheree said, “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. Take heart, people. Find a place of peace in your soul, even in nature. God has a perspective that we do not have. Hang in there. He is in charge. Indeed, God is watching us – even, from a distance.”
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My mom used to sing this song when I was little. I used to watch videos of her singing it over and over. It made me feel peace of mind and that I was part of a bigger picture. I loved getting to sing this version with the Rexburg Children’s Choir. The associate choir director, Sheree, was a friend of my mom’s as well when I was young. So the whole experience was nostalgic and brings it full circle for me. 🙂 Hope you enjoy our rendition of this song! Full video is on YouTube! From a Distance: David Archuleta with Rexburg Children's Choir