Any new artist who has the courage to write about subjects that are difficult to express in music will stand out in any genre.
Rising artist Liddy Clark has that bravery and the storytelling acumen to address subjects that are difficult to express with an honest perspective that’s needed in today’s country music.
In a time when society moves on from mass casualty too quickly, Clark gives a message of hope to survivors of the school shooting at Parkland, Fla.’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in her new video “Shot Down (Stand Up).” Today (Feb. 14) marks the first anniversary a gunman opened fire in one of the freshman buildings, killing 17 students and staff and wounding 17 others.
Rife with symbolism, the piece was filmed at Los Angeles’ Alhambra High School by directors Brad Wong and Laura Malatos. The 17 missed messages represent the lives lost in the shooting. At the end of the video, there are 18 missed messages representing the cycle of violence that continues without meaningful change.
The date on the cellphone is Nov. 9 to honor the birthday of Peter Wang, the heroic 15-year-old and junior ROTC cadet who was last seen alive holding the door for fellow students on the day of the shooting. His brave actions saved 10 to 20 lives that day.
“I knew I was going to write a song about it immediately after it happened,” Clark, a Parkland native, tells CMT.com. “But I just couldn’t quite get my emotions out of the way from overwhelming me. The day I wrote this was in late May because I had recently been asked to play the Wear Orange event. I knew I needed to write something to feel a sense of understanding, and I wanted to do it for that event specifically knowing that it would be the next time I would be performing back in Parkland since the shooting.”
CMT.com: When you were writing it, did you think about the future of the song; that it could be part of a bigger conversation to bring on meaningful change?
Clark: For this song, I wanted to make sure that it was positively looking forward and being hopeful for change in supporting the whole movement that had come out of this. People are more willing to talk about it now, and I think that’s a great thing. The first step to solving a problem is admitting there’s a problem, and the next step is to talk about it and get everybody’s opinions out in the open.
Survivor Aalayah Eastmond was at Bonnaroo last year with another victim from the Santa Fe school shooting. They both thought that society and their classmates move on too quickly from these traumatic experiences. Do you think that’s the case in today’s culture?
Definitely. There was media all over Parkland in the weeks following the shooting. Now it’s just eerie and creepy driving by the school and talking to people who still go there. Honestly, the whole thing kind of bothers me, which would bother anybody. But it’s sad because these kids have to go through this, be bombarded by media and then get completely abandoned.
What do you hope this song does for Parkland survivors?
I feel like this song is a hopeful message for survivors that all their efforts to get the word out, to get people to start talking about this, to make real change in our country, it’s not wasted. It’s really doing something, and it’s become a movement. I’m really proud of everything that’s been happening since then.
This is a courageous statement to be making. How do you tap into that courageous creativity? Is that a challenge for you as a songwriter?
I don’t think it’s that courageous. This is everything I’ve been keeping inside of me since it happened. Honestly, when I started writing this song, I knew I had to put it out on paper. I just wrote pages and pages for about 30 minutes straight in my notebook, and you can look back and see the tears I was crying on these pages because it was so heartbreaking to have to get into it again and relive in that mindset. But I just really hope this brings peace for people who have gone through something like this or it brings some kind of hope. I just want to spread positivity throughout this movement.
Clark has an upcoming EP in the works that’s slated for a summer release.