The Detroit Youth Choir is paying tribute to the victims of the Ulvade, Texas, shooting at Robb Elementary and more gun violence victims through music.
On Tuesday, the choir shared a cover of Guns N’ Roses‘ 1987 classic “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The tribute video starts by sharing information about Layla Salazar, who died in the Ulvade school shooting in May. “Layla was 11,” text in the video reads. “She loved to swim, dance and create TikTok videos. She was fast, winning six races at her school field day. On her way to school, she would sing along with her dad to ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine.'”
The video text continues: “On May 24, 2022, Layla was one of 19 children and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Ulvade. This is for Layla, her school friends and all victims of gun violence.”
The children’s choir joins forces to emotively sing the track, wearing T-shirts with the names of cities across the United States that have been impacted by mass shootings, including Sandy Hook, Buffalo and Parkland.
“She’s got eyes of the bluest skies/ As if they thought of rain/ I’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain/ Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place/ Where as a child I’d hide/ And pray for the thunder and the rain to quietly pass me by,” individual choir members sing with the help of backing harmonies.
An added verse differentiates the new version from the original and sees one of the choir members pleading with adults to help enact change, no matter how small. “Little progress is a big step/ But it shouldn’t take 10 years to ask what’s next/ You leave that doorstep, it’s the real world/ Scary part is it can really target any boy or girl/ Dreams taken, spirits shining from the sky/ Asking us to remember their cry/ Young’ns holding grown-ups to account/ We can make every loss of these lives count/ Yeah, every second counts,” the girl raps in the video, adding an even deeper meaning to Guns N’ Roses’ Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit.
According to the Detroit Youth Choir’s artistic director Anthony T. White, the purpose of the new rendition is to ask a simple question: “’Where do we go now?’ While progress has been made, this is no time for complacency, as the lyrics of the rap in the song say: ‘It can’t take 10 years to ask what’s next.’ This version of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ is a poignant call to action from today’s youth to all grown-ups to stay at the table, show respect to one another and continue to work together to find solutions to make our schools and communities safer from gun violence.”
Watch the Detroit Youth Choir’s “Sweet Child O’ Mine” below.