The idea behind ‘music cures all’ shines through in “Fighter”, a song and music video inspired by children who are fighting childhood cancer. Written by Taylor Tote and two young girls, Hannah Rose and Natalie Grace (who happens to be a cancer survivor herself), “Fighter” was released on October 25th on ITunes, in connection with New Jersey organization, Infinite Love For Kids Fighting Cancer. I spoke with Taylor, a 21-year-old singer/songwriter from Monmouth County, who used her undeniable musical talents to help some tiny, yet strong, FIGHTERS…
How did you and Infinite Love For Kids Fighting Cancer team up?
I was introduced to Andrea Verdone Gorsegner, founder of Infinite Love For Kids Fighting Cancer, in 2015. Our mutual friend introduced us because Andrea was looking for entertainment for her fundraiser, Natalie Grace’s Wish. Andrea started her organization when her daughter, Natalie Grace, was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia right before her third birthday. Natalie is now coming up on her two-year cancer-free anniversary on Thanksgiving. When I met Andrea and both of her daughter’s, Natalie Grace and Hannah Rose, we had an instant connection.
How did “Fighter” come to life?
I was babysitting the girls one day and we didn’t have anything to do. I knew they liked music and I was going through a huge writer’s block. I had no intentions of writing a song like “Fighter”, I just knew that kids always said whatever came to mind and they didn’t second guess it. So I said, “Hey girls, why don’t we write a song?” They were so excited and totally in. They said they wanted to write a song that started slow and sad, but got fast and happy as it went on. So I thought okay, hopeful. The song pretty much wrote itself after the first three lines. When Andrea got home, the girls were so excited to show her the song and she was floored! She said that if I practiced with them enough, we could perform it at her event. Well, after we performed it at the event, we thought it would be such a great idea to record the song along with a video to help spread awareness. One full year later, that’s what we did!
What was the process like behind making the music video?
When we first played the song at Andrea’s fundraiser in 2015, it was just me playing guitar and the three of us sung the whole song together in unison. When we decided that we were going to record it and film a video, I wanted my band to be involved. I showed them a song, explained how I wanted it to sound and we came up with an incredible arrangement. I assigned the girls certain parts to sing and Andrea found cancer fighters and survivors to be in the song and video with us. Filming the video was honestly quite intense – in a good way! There were a lot of people involved in the making of this video and we were pressed for time since working with young kids — and young, sick kids — can be hard after it gets to be too long. It was filmed and directed by Right Stuff Studios, who did an incredible job and was an absolute pleasure to work with. It took us two days to film: one day was at a beautiful house in Rumson and the other day was at the Middletown Firehouse on Route 35. It was an emotional process but so much fun.
Why is this cause so important to you?
No cancer is worse than the other, but everyone thinks cancer in children is rare and because they think it’s rare, they aren’t getting proper funding, which means they don’t get proper treatments. People need to know what’s happening in the childhood cancer community and we need to fight for it.
The music video showcases children who are battling or who have beat cancer, like Ava Krajewski. Some children dream of being in music videos, and these kids actually got the chance to do it! I spoke with Ava’s mom, Rose Ann, about their experience.
Ava and I got involved in this experience through the power of social media. A friend of mine lived in the same town as Natalie Grace and her family. One day, my friend tagged me in a post where Natalie’s mom was calling out to “all children affected by cancer” to help in the production of the song “Fighter”. I contacted Andrea (Natalie’s Mom) expressing my interest and Ava’s interest in raising childhood cancer awareness. Next thing I knew, we were in the recording studio alongside so many other “fighters”!
The experience was amazing. Here we are, almost 6 years post diagnosis, singing a song that had so much meaning to everyone in the recording studio. Ava was beyond excited to sing at the top of her lungs along to the chorus of “Fighter”. In every sense, she is a “fighter”, as are the children alongside her.
There is an unspoken truth about how terrible this disease is. The reality is children lack the simple understanding of how serious cancer is and although many children smile and play during the most horrible of days attached to an IV pole dripping chemotherapy, the truth is their innocent minds and bodies fight to stay alive. The fight is brutal. Children walk away with battle scars: physically and mentally. Some children never walk away. My hope is that “Fighter” will shed light on the realities of children fighting cancer and the horrible side effects they endure during treatment. I hope “Fighter” will help raise awareness and maybe, just maybe, much more that only 4% of money raised will go towards childhood cancer research.
I asked Ava how she felt about being a part of this beautiful, meaningful song. She said, “Mom, I can’t believe all these kids had cancer just like me. We are all FIGHTERS.”
Check out “Fighter” on ITunes — all proceeds go toward childhood cancer.