Listen to Siedah Garrett's 'Reach Up L.A.', the 2015 Special Olympics Theme Song: Exclusive Video

Siedah Garrett
Courtesy Photo

Siedah Garrett

Siedah Garrett didn't have to be asked twice to write another them for Special Olympics. But she's happy she was.

"Reach Up L.A.," the 2015 Special Olympics theme, is Garrett's second composition for the organization. She collaborated with Quincy Jones on "I Know I Can" for the 2007 games. She'll perform "Reach Up" during this year's Special Olympics opening ceremony on Saturday, July 25 before first lady Michelle Obama and an estimated crowd of 96,000 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (it will also be aired on ESPN).

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"I feel like lightning has struck twice in my life with regards to the Special Olympics," Garrett tells Billboard. "I feel really blessed to be part of something so massive and so important and so encouraging. It makes me feel light and happy inside. When you see these athletes doing what even they never thought they could, you can't not smile and often cry tears of joy for them. It's a really awesome experience."

Watch the video for "Reach Up L.A.," which Billboard is premiering exclusively below. 

In writing this year's theme, Garrett -- who's best-known for co-writing Michael Jackson's 1987 hit "Man in the Mirror" and dueting with him on "I Can't Stop Loving You," both from his Bad album -- says she tried to incorporate the athletes' point of view. "You've got to think of what it means to the people who are performing their tasks, of being challenged and challenging each other and challenging themselves. It's about uplifting and supporting these athletes who have not been dealt a full deck of cards with regards to their health and physical and mental and emotional state. The fact that they're even goal-oriented and intent on not only surviving but thriving is so amazing."

Garrett adds a "Reach Up" video wasn't necessarily on the docket, but the project "just evolved and morphed into this huge thing that keeps getting bigger and more awesome."

The singer-songwriter remains busy composing as well as writing and performing ad jingles. Her other major project now, however, is a memoir titled Look Inside that she hopes to have out during the spring of 2016 and tells her story from growing up in Los Angeles to signing on with Jones as a writer and background singer, eventually going on to her own recording career. There will be plenty about Jackson, but she plans to keep that on the positive side.

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"It's not exactly a rags to riches story; more like the hood to the west side," Garrett says. "No one in my family expected me to be or do anything. It's about the fact that I kind of ignored their expectations for me and set my own goals and not only met them but kind of surpassed them. I never dreamed I'd be meeting let alone writing for and touring with (Jackson); that's just not something you kind of wish for, y'know? The fact that it happened to me is just...It's all a blessing, what can I say? I feel blessed in every way."


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