Sting has written plenty of tunes for movies before, including three previous best original song Oscar contenders. But he felt an added responsibility when he penned the lyrics to “The Empty Chair,” the end-credits song in Jim: The James Foley Story, the moving documentary about the American journalist captured and beheaded by ISIS. The song, with music by J. Ralph, was among the five finalists for best original song announced Tuesday morning (Jan. 24).
"The stakes are higher when you’re writing about a person who really existed, a person with family and friends you want to honor,” he tells Billboard. “I’m glad I found the metaphor of the empty chair. I said no at first [when Ralph asked]. I said 'This is beyond my powers.' I curated the song from what [Jim’s] family and friends said about him. It’s their song.”
Ralph, who is celebrating his third nomination, hopes the nod will bring attention to the film. “That’s why we go anywhere we can to try to help people see this movie and see the importance of the story and this incredible heroism and compassion that was Jim Foley.”