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  • Jonathan Widran


In normal times – like say, anytime in recent history before 2020 – Isolde Fair’s emotionally and spiritually empowering debut single “Rise” and its accompanying video would simply mark the emergence of an extraordinarily gifted and insightful young artist.

But by releasing the symphonic pop/rock anthem at this juncture - in the wake of COVID-19 and the protests inspired by the murder of George Floyd - the multi-talented 16-year-old singer/songwriter, pianist and violinist truly transcends her status as a young newcomer and meets the moment brilliantly, with boldness, encouragement and a sense of optimism that courageously dares to defy the trouble, despair and hopelessness that we’ve all been flirting with or immersing in and desperately need to shake off. Even before we hear the first piano chords, her opening spoken words inspire tears they may not have a year ago because we’re a bit more woke now.

She says, “Humanity is pulled apart with hate anger and fear. Isolation. Let’s change.” This sets a somber, haunting yet cautiously hopeful tone for what follows. Over the haunting opening piano chords, she captures the tension between the chaos around us and “my feet touching the underground.” She reaches out to the universe for a bit of luck, then acknowledges that the key to making those changes is staying put (rather than running away) and figuring out how to “break the chains.”

The chorus offers wisdom and strength for this or any age: “Cause we rise until we’re standing/We rise until we’re strong/Our dreams are never ending/So we rise until we’re standing…” The next part of the song where tension builds and energy is unleashed via orchestral strings, is best experienced via the video shot by Oscar nominated director Sara Nesson. Isolde’s words reflect the what we’ve been seeing on TV during the protests: “See the violence on the street/Running rampant, I don’t want it to repeat/Calling voices from the crowd/Will you hear us, we are so damn proud…”

But it’s the images of Isolde and a cadre of dancers making sweeping arm movements – and then laying hands on her and quickly breaking free - that drive the message home. Likewise, on the bridge, when the groove picks up and her lone voice becomes part of a swelling chorus. It’s a call to join forces to effect meaningful change: “We let our voices be heard, there’s strength in every word/So when we’re gonna fall/We’ll still stand tall.”

As she fills us with emotion, we see Isolde alternately playing violin in a serene mountainous landscape and another outdoor scene where there is refuse in the background. It’s the perfect pairing of serene dreaming and the will to fight for what’s right. The clip then features Isolde and the dancers climbing a hill and exulting and leaping, perhaps symbolizing a burst of resolve and hope, in the shadows before the sun.

A single changed word makes a huge statement towards the end as one of the chorus, as Isolde changes “Our dreams are never ending” to “Our struggle’s never ending.” The struggle and the dream are always interwoven. The single image of her reaching out her hand to help someone up the hill speaks volumes about what humanity must do for the least of our brothers and sisters engaged with us in the struggle for freedom and equality.

The daughter of veteran musicians, film/TV composers and the track’s producers Starr Parodi and Jeff Fair, Isolde scored a viral video hit at 13 “To All The Little Girls,” an impactful song letting girls and women know they are valuable. In September 2019, she was invited to perform “Rise” at Lincoln Center as part of “Women Warriors: Voices of Change.”

The dancing on the “Rise” video was choreographed by Bonnie Story (“High School Musical,” “So You Think You Can Dance”) as well as Suzi Lonergan and Bayli Baker. The track was mastered by Grammy winner Emily Lazar (Morrissey, Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Beck).

The video officially releases June 19.


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