Back in August, LG launched the Life’s Good Music Project, created to convey the positive and hopeful message of “Life’s Good,” during difficult times. As part of the initiative, aspiring creatives were given the chance to expand on music written by Grammy-winning R&B sensation H.E.R. and produce original songs tied to the theme. LG and H.E.R. were joined in the desire to give an opportunity to young musicians who wanted to be heard.
H.E.R. kicked things off by posting 16 bars of music—45 seconds of sweet melody paired with inspirational lyrics—to get everyone started. She and LG then invited musicians around the world to help finish the song. More than a thousand answered the call.
Contestants built on the guitar-driven sketch by adding lyrics, melody, instrumentation, and production. They uploaded videos showcasing both their musical skills and unique personalities. There were many worthy entries, but in the end, only three musicians could be chosen to work together on the song with H.E.R.’s guidance and then record it in a professional L.A. studio.
The winners were Claire Ernst, a fresh-faced singer-songwriter from Nashville; Andrew Music Williams, a singer, songwriter, producer, and former NFL hopeful from Long Beach, CA., and Jake Chapman, an L.A.-based multi-instrumentalist who’s written musical theater and performed at venues like Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Each contestant brought a singular approach to the writing prompt, but all three shared an understanding of what the song should communicate to listeners.
Ernst started out by asking her dad to help her figure out H.E.R.’s chords—then she made a beat and started singing over the top. “The first thing that came out of my mouth was ‘living with the door wide open,’ so I ran with it,” she says. “Then I threw a bunch of harmonies on it and finished it up just in time for my 20th birthday, so it just felt right.”
Williams similarly wrote of overcoming obstacles in his lyrics and tried to keep that vibe going with the track he produced. “Musically, as I was producing the record, I wanted the listeners to experience motivation and elevation,” he said.
For Chapman, the song was an opportunity to highlight some instrumental chops. He grabbed his mallets and added vibraphone, marimba, and glockenspiel. “I think my arrangement was successful at supporting H.E.R. with a unique, gentle, and playful vibe,” he says. “I’m so glad she liked what I did with her song!”
With the three winners selected, it was time to move forward with the arranging and recording of the track. The three musicians hopped on a video call with H.E.R., who provided guidance and coaching.
“In a year of many Zoom calls, the ones with H.E.R. would be my highlight,” says Chapman. “I’m glad she gave us praise on our individual entries and feedback when we were making the final song. It was fun to work with Claire and Andrew. We figured out a way to combine their respective verses and H.E.R.’s chorus into one song.”
H.E.R. liked the production and structure proposed by Williams, so that became the basis for the song. “I recreated the music and chord progressions to sit well with me and Claire’s vocal arrangements, and Jake played the vibes over the top to add a unique element to the song,” says Williams.
The finished song represents a true collaboration between the three winners. The bright melody, bubbly production, and sunny vibraphone accents work like aural mood-enhancers, while the lyrics encourage listeners to celebrate the positive aspects of life—something that’s not always easy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The message ‘Life’s Good’ really resonated with me while creating this project,” says Ernst. “Through all the insanity that’s been going on in the world, it allowed me to step back and really take in the joy that is making music. The way music makes me feel and makes other people feel is powerful, and sometimes I forget that.”
Asked how the message “Life’s Good” resonates with him, Chapman says it’s all about taking a second to reflect on your place in the universe. “There’s so much to be thankful for, from family and friends to food and music,” he says. “Often, life doesn’t feel that great, but if we can remember that it is ultimately a blessing, we can focus on the good things and live positively, peacefully, and happily.”
It’s impossible to say where the three winners will go from here. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that trying to predict the future is a total waste of time. But it’s safe to say that whatever happens next, Ernst, Williams, and Chapman will continue creating the kind of heartfelt, honest music born of this project.
In recent months, Ernst has been collaborating with other artists and utilizing new recording equipment to begin work on her second EP. She recently released a brand-new song called “Stay Up Just to Get Down.” “Through quarantine I found myself writing a lot, so now I’m just figuring out what to do with it all,” she says.
Chapman hopes to continue honing his skills while playing with other musicians. After touring China in early 2020 with his family band, Von Chaps, he fell into a community of L.A. musicians that has struggled during the pandemic. “Right now, my biggest goal as an artist is to just keep going,” Chapman says. “It’s been an unsettling year in many ways, and I’m hoping that someday soon, I’ll find stronger footing as an artist and in general.”
Williams has a new song called “Let It Go.” As he looks forward, he hopes to provide “love, faith, hope, and joy” through his music. All of which ties back to the spirit of the Life’s Good Music Project.
“The message of ‘Life’s Good’ resonates with me in a very positive and sustainable way,” Williams says. “To be alive is a blessing in itself. Reminding yourself that ‘Life’s Good’ will help you find the good in situations that are meant to be tough. As an artist and producer I have always wanted an opportunity like this. It took a while—doubt was present at times—but I reminded myself ‘Life’s Good’ regardless. My message to all artists and producers around the world: Your time will come.”