Kaleena Zanders Debuts Emotional LGBTQ-Inspired Music Video For 'Stronger Than I've Ever Been': Premiere

Micharl Clifford
Kaleena Zanders

The song behind Toyota's tear-jerker Super Bowl and Winter Olympics commercial starring Paralympian Lauren Woolstencroft now has an even heavier visual.

Between its Super Bowl debut to frequent replay during the Winter Olympics, you might be running out of tissue watching Toyota's highly emotional commercial which tells the story of eight-time Paralympic gold medalist Lauren Woolstencroft.

Now, the heart-tugging ballad that soundtracks the minute-long spot -- titled "Stronger Than I've Ever Been (Piano Edit)" by rising vocalist Kaleena Zanders and produced by dirty Monster -- may just have you running to the store to buy more. 

The three-minute coming-of-age music video to the heartfelt anthem centers around a young biracial teen's journey of coming out to his parents, unsurprisingly causing a rift between him and his father. The clip also highlights the special relationship between mother and son that many young members of the LGTBQ community might identify with. While the story line isn't new to many queer youth, Zanders' soaring vocal is a reflection of her own bravery and struggle when she came out to her parents. 

"The message of this music video is really important to me because it took a lot of courage for me to come out – and in times that required courage and took a lot of strength to stay united," explains Zanders. "As kids we never really understand the personal struggles parents cope with as their children grow up, and in my own life, I admire the strength my mom had in raising me and my brothers.”

Approached by director Cameron Thrower with the idea behind the video, Zanders knew that it was the direction they had to take -- displaying the amount of courage it takes to come out, but also showing just how much mothers do to hold their families together. "Kaleena and I just keep pinching ourselves," Throwers says. "And we’re so grateful to our talented cast and crew that worked so hard to bring this story to life.”

A full-circle moment came when Zanders, surrounded by close friends and her mother, saw the Toyota spot live during the Super Bowl, adding, "Hearing my song on television and watching it being used to tell Lauren Woolstencroft’s story was mind blowing. I was with my closest friends and my mom during the Super Bowl, which was so emotional. And now to see the commercial still airing in the Winter Olympics -- oh, boy, I've cried so many tears!"

The music video officially drops Friday, February 16, but you can watch it below exclusively on Billboard. You can purchase the track here.  

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.