It’s been a surreal year for Gabe Fox-Peck ’20, and a worldwide pandemic is only part of the reason.
“We were done with the song by the summer of 2019, and it’s been this crazy long ride since then,” said Fox-Peck, referring to his 2020 Oscar-nominated song “Stand Up” from the acclaimed biopic “Harriet,” about the abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The song, which he helped create with Harvard alum Joshuah Campbell ’16, is currently up for a Grammy award on March 14 for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
The pair hammered out an early version of “Stand Up” during one daylong session in May of 2019 after Campbell was approached by the film’s composer, Terence Blanchard, for a demo recording. (Blanchard had seen Campbell’s 2018 Commencement performance of “Sing Out, March On,” his tribute to Rep. John Lewis, the Civil Rights legend and that year’s main speaker.)
Campbell recalled wanting to ground the song in the “Black music traditions” of gospel, the blues, and jazz, and incorporate the “world of work music and rhythmically driven, vocally driven,” songs reminiscent of chain gangs.
“I knew I wanted it to sort of reverberate with those themes and with those soundscapes” said Campbell, “and Gabe was really adept at hearing the vision.”
Fox-Peck, who co-produced the song, told the Gazette in a 2020 interview that he was “hearing a bass kick and a clap with a lot of atmosphere, almost like a chain gang,” and that he “added harmonies, ukulele, guitar, percussion.”