Mat and Savanna Shaw from Kaysville, Utah, are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as “the Mormon Church”). Amid the melancholy caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the father daughter duo have set out to be a ray of hope and sunshine in spite of what otherwise appears to be a dismal situation.
When the father and daughter duo sat down at their kitchen table in late February 2020 to sing “The Prayer” —originally made famous by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli in the late ’90s—the intent was to make a video solely for their family and friends. They decided to make the video when 15-year-old Savanna’s choir canceled practices due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In a two-week period, the four-minute video, which was released on 6 March 2020, has more than 2.7 million views on YouTube and 4.4 million views on Facebook.
In a telephone interview, Mat Shaw told The Daily Signal, “I think it’s been touching for some people to see a family, a father-daughter relationship, enjoying their talents and spending time together, it reminds them of their own relationships.” Savanna added, “I just wanted to be able to keep in touch with my friends. I had not had social media before this. . . .I just wanted to post a song to start out on Instagram.”
Neither 39-year-old Mat nor his 15-year-old daughter Savanna are experienced in working with social media. Mat admitted, “I don’t have any experience with YouTube at all, as far as posting … It took me hours. I had to figure out how to start a channel and then [“The Prayer”] was our first post to YouTube.” The Daily Signal reports that what the duo lacks in social media know-how was more than made up for in their performance of the song and the message of hope it inspires.
The success of their first song has led them to record more songs of hope and inspiration. The five songs that they have recorded thus far have been made in their “quarantine recording studio”—what the pair calls their in-home closet setup.
Mat commented, “Neither of us have ever set foot in a real-life recording studio, so I don’t know what’s normal. But for us, normal is an iPad, a little mic that plugs into the iPad that we bought at the Apple Store. [The iPad] is propped up by my pajama pants in my closet.” After the audio is recorded, the video portion is filmed at their kitchen table.
When asked why they are continuing to produce duets together, they both agree that they want to bring hope to those who need it. Savanna said, “I want [viewers] to walk away with a little bit of hope. I want to give them some joy. There is a lot to be sad and scared about right now. But I want to be the good thing that helps create joy, because I feel like we need more of that right now.” Mat added, “I have heard that the only thing more contagious than a virus is hope. And so we are just trying to do our small little part in the world to spread a little bit of hope.”