Springwood resident releases new song for our times: 'And the people stayed home'

Composer and pianist Peta Williams has released a new song inspired by people's lives in lockdown, called And the people stayed home.

The lyrics are by United States writer Kitty O'Meara, who has seen her poem about the world staying at home during the pandemic go viral. A friend shared the Wisconsin writer's words with Ms Williams who was quickly drawn to setting them to music.

"After I realised I wanted to set these words to music, I found out that many other people around the world were doing the same thing. Why are so many of us drawn to Kitty's words, her prayer, at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic? What is it that resonates so with us?" said the Springwood resident.

"For me, it is because her words offer a sense of optimism and hope. Despite the horror and the great loss of life across the world we have experienced in the last few months of the pandemic; despite the grief and disappointment as our lives are turned upside down, there is reason to hope that we will come through this and be better people, and contribute to healing the earth that gives us sustenance and life."

Springwood resident Peta Williams

Springwood resident Peta Williams

After contacting O'Meara to gain permission to set her words to music, Ms Williams was delighted to receive her feedback on the finished recording, which she described as like a hymn.

"Waking with a cold, and a foggy, aching head, as I did this morning, I'll tell you: no better medicine than this glorious rendition of the poem... So much beauty and so much effort on the part of all the artists to make your beautiful music soar," she replied.

As a community sector worker with Belong Blue Mountains, Ms Williams is aware the song won't resonate with everyone.

"People who are isolated at home and living with domestic violence; people who are homeless, won't have cause to celebrate the isolation that is causing many of us to stay at home," she said. "People who are trying to work from home as well as home-school children might feel too frustrated to enjoy the thought of staying at home, as might people who have lost their jobs and wonder how they can survive.

"And yet, I hope that Kitty's words and my music might bring solace and optimism so that we will get through this difficult time together, and come out the other end having thought differently about how we can better live our lives, nourish our spirits, and how we can support the earth that gives us sustenance and life. The possibility of hope."

The song was composed and arranged by Ms Williams with input from her sister, Leigh Gardiner (lead vocal) and brother-in-law Graeme Gardiner (vocal harmonies). Ms Williams played piano, and produced the arrangement and other instruments digitally. Mixing and mastering was by Andy Busuttil of Blue Mountain Sound.