Music is a powerful force, confirmed most recently by the disturbing grip held on the nation by a video of a toddler who has been taught to sing misguided tunes about gay people. But the power of music goes the other way too.
In his new song, and YouTube music video, independent singer-songwriter Richard Hefner gives insight into what it’s like to be on the other end of misunderstanding, ultimately making the choice to stay true to yourself. Watch the video here.
It is rough for any kid who might be different growing up in the U.S. It is arguably tougher in the South and rural areas, evidenced by new coverage of teen suicide in recent times. Luckily, these are also the strongholds of country music.
“There’s sometimes a ‘conform or get out’ attitude when you grow up in rural areas.” says Hefner (no relation to Hugh), who grew up in Utah. “That’s why I got together with my talented friends to make the music video. We believed that a country music video about staying strong despite negativity from society and family could inspire young people not to give up.”
“Country music could play such a positive role in helping kids and parents feel like they have a place in this country no matter how ‘different’ they feel,” Hefner further comments. “Isn’t it the Country Music ideal to stand up for who you are and be honest no matter what people think? That’s my ideal for myself and for America.”
The lyrics of Girls and Boys tell the story of what it’s like to not lie about what you feel despite that ‘It’s not what my big old family wanted” and “it’s not the pastor’s wish for me”. But the song does not take a heavy tone in the end. “We all cry…We learn to ride the changing tide…At the end we’ll sure be glad we stayed alive.”
“I want people to hum it like a good old three-chords-and-the-truth song,” says Hefner. “It’s Andy Griffith 2012 with a twist, but it’s really about living a good life.”
Singer/songwriter Richard Hefner has been writing songs in different genres since he was a kid. He grew up in rural Utah where he started early writing and performing songs for his family and church. He continued writing and performing throughout his youth, studying music, acting and directing, with a passion for Terrence McNally, Joe Orton and Harold Pinter.
In his 2os, Richard co-founded New Theatre Company with David Hemmings (Antonioni’s Blow-Up) in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he served as artistic director and worked with artists such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Carol King, among others. Moving to New York, he became serious about his songwriting, focusing on writing songs that offered real substance. After seven years in the New York “out” songwriting scene, he moved to Los Angeles, writing and performed a one-man musical, Caste of the Wounded Tongues.
Hefner’s passion for songwriting and performing continues today with the launch of Songs for the World, a series of songs in development that he hopes might mean something in today’s world and can inspire people to help change it.
Watch the cast of the video talk about what the project means to them on YouTube at here.