Award-winning singer/songwriter/producer Matt Zarley teams up with critically acclaimed indie artist Jeb Havens to honor the educators and students of the class of 2020 with a reimagined rendition of the Kelly Clarkson hit, “Stronger.”
The GLEE-tastic music video, featuring a cast of 50+ students and parents from Canoga Park High School in California, was shot on location at the school two weeks before the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
“If we had to delay shooting a week, we probably wouldn’t have been able to complete this,” says Zarley.
“I can’t imagine being a high school senior and not getting to experience those special end of school year moments that you’ve been looking forward to for the past 4 years,” he adds. “I feel so bad for these kids. This entire situation is just awful.”
As Havens and Zarley take on multiple roles as teachers, coaches, janitors, and cafeteria workers, the video tells the tale of a new student at school who finds his way to tryouts for the dance team. In a short time, he goes from misunderstood (#QuackIsWhack) to ‘rad’ (#FunkADuck).
The duo’s soulful pop vocals are a perfect match for the soaring self-empowerment anthem.
I’ve shared music from both Zarley and Havens over the years, but just in case you missed it…
Zarley made his theatrical debut at 17-years-old in the national touring company of CATS, at that time the youngest to ever perform in the mega-blockbuster. His career continued with roles on Broadway in A Chorus Line, The Who’s Tommy, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as well as TV appearances in Disney’s Cinderella (w/ Whitney Houston), Geppetto (w/ Drew Carey) & Annie (w/ Kathy Bates), The Drew Carey Show, Fame, The Tonight Show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, and Smash, among others.
An award-winning, 4-time Billboard charting recording artist, his albums include Debut, Here I Am (2008 Billboard Critics Top Ten and American Idol Top 20 Songwriter), and Change Begins With Me (2012 OUTMusic Award for Album & Single Of The Year). He was also the first openly gay man featured in People Magazine’s ‘Hottest Bachelors’ annual issue.
He added filmmaker to his resume when he released hopefulROMANTIC, an award-winning musical short film he wrote, produced and starred in which played dozens of international film festivals including Cannes, Mumbai, Montreal, and as well as numerous stateside festivals.
Jeb Havens is an international recording artist and songwriter whose music is a blend of catchy pop and raw emotional therapy.
He became a viral sensation when he began recording original and cover songs in his closet (good sound) and shared them on YouTube.
One of his earliest “Closet Covers” was his emotional, moving take of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” which quickly garnered hundreds of thousands of views. As it spread across the internet, his performance grabbed the attention of mainstream entertainment media outlets like Buzzfeed which raved, “Seriously, someone get this guy a record deal already.”
His debut solo album “Home Base” was named one of the Top 5 in LGBT Music for 2016.
The woofy duo has collaborated several times over the years on projects ranging from music videos to live performances in the U.S. and abroad including their ‘Works of Heart’ concerts.