Manufacturing is essential. This fact was highlighted at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. NJMEP worked tirelessly to show NJ decision-makers that none of these businesses should close their doors. For the supply chain to continue moving forward, the Unsung Heroes must go to work.
People forget about the manufacturers behind their favorite products, the cars they drive, the planes they use. The world forgot how important it was to make sure the United States has the capabilities to manufacture Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves in case of a global pandemic.
COVID-19 was a tragedy in more ways than one. A silver lining of this devastating disaster was that the Unsung Heroes, New Jersey manufacturers, stood up and fought back. Working with Andy White, NJMEP created a song and video to honor these Unsung Heroes. The song expresses the public’s gratitude that New Jersey manufacturers were able to remain agile, retool, and lessen the impact the pandemic had on the state as well as the entire nation. Sally White, Director of Business Development, NJMEP reached out to her brother, Andy White to commission a New Jersey manufacturing anthem. From that conversation, ‘Unsung Heroes’ was born.
1-Minute Teaser ‘Unsung Heroes’
Mike Womack, Marketing Project Manager, NJMEP reached out to Andy White and singer Andre Saint to discuss this unique project. See what it took to produce a song about the ‘Unsung Heroes’ and New Jersey manufacturing.
Andy White currently releases music under the name “White Noise Scientists” available on YouTube and Spotify.
Mike Womack (MW): How did you find yourself making a song inspired by New Jersey manufacturing? This can’t be an everyday request.
Andy White (AW): Well the interesting part of it was my sister called me. We had a conversation and she’s aware I write and make music. She said that NJMEP was working on a project about the ‘Unsung Heroes’ and explained what it was. Sally said I’d really like it if we have a piece of music to go along with it. I said I’d be more than happy to!
MW: How did the song come about? What’s your usual process of writing a song? It was incredible to see this song come together so quickly after we made the request.
AW: The song itself came about quickly for me. For me, when I write a piece of music, quite often it will transform from a small idea on a guitar and then I start working on the drums and bass. It can really turn out quickly, a rough mix at least.
AW: I think the good thing is, we clicked very much when we were talking about creating an epic tune and a big sort of anthem.
AW: I started with a basic keyboard pattern and then put some guitars and then I started getting ideas. The drums, I wanted them to be a big sort of anthem drums going around the kit and everything. Things like the spoken word part with an NJMEP team member doing that section, I really liked it, it came from one of you guys.
MW: ‘Unsung Heroes’ blew away everyone at NJMEP. At first, no one knew what to expect when marketing explained we’re working to create a ‘New Jersey Manufacturing Anthem’. Were you excited to work on this unique project?
AW: Absolutely! And it was a challenge for me. The truth is, a lot of the time, I write a piece of music and then start to build a story in my mind and a theme over that from a lyrics point of view. This was a unique project to write a piece of music relating to the manufacturing industry in New Jersey. You can imagine, that’s not normally a subject that makes you say, “I’m going to write a song about this today”. Sally was throwing words at me to give me some ideas. But then I thought to myself and looked at it from more of a wider angle. I thought about people who remain strong in difficult situations and people that work behind the scenes. Sally exclaimed, “Exactly, those people are Unsung Heroes”. I stopped her and said, that’s the name of the song.
MW: I know what we think about the song but how do you feel the song came out? Was it difficult for you?
AW: I was really pleased. I think it came out well because, the honest truth is, from the start from finish no part got scrapped. When we hear the song now, that’s how it flowed through. It was a really simple process for me because it just seemed to all build really nicely. There’s a lot of layers in there too. There are strings, keys, synth, various guitar parts, and it gives it a big kind of presence.
MW: Andre, the singer on this song was able to really drive home that this song has an important meaning behind it. What made you chose him as the singer?
AW: Andre is a friend of mine and we did a song together a while back and you can tell he has that big, anthemic kind of voice. When Sally explained the song, I thought I had to speak with Andre about this because there is no one else that could make it what I needed it to be.
MW: Why did Andre feel strongly about the message? It’s easy to hear that this song is important to him. Why do you think he’s so passionate about ‘Unsung Heroes’?
AW: He works within engineering and he also had Coronavirus.
AW: He said to me, “Andy, I completely get this because I work in manufacturing and I’ve experienced COVID.” It’s amazing really, the link was right there for us.
MW: Why do you think manufacturing workers are often overlooked? How do you see this song highlighting the importance of this critical industry and the people that make it all possible?
AW: They’re not on the frontlines. You see doctors, nurses, and services and people like that because they are in the public eye and we of course applaud them, but you forget about the things going on behind the scenes. Those people are still putting themselves at risk and working hard to keep the world moving. This was the theme I latched onto and it was actually pretty easy to write about.
Andy White has been playing music for 30 years and helped create a true manufacturing anthem to celebrate these essential New Jersey workers. So often manufacturing is an afterthought, but that changed once COVID-19 reared its ugly head. The importance of domestic manufacturing was accentuated. As international supply chains ground to a halt, New Jersey manufacturing was there to pick up the slack. Many might not realize just how important the manufacturing industry truly is here in the United States. However, Andre Siant, the singer on ‘Unsung Heroes’ understood the importance of highlighting manufacturing.
Mike Womack continued the discussion with singer, Andre Saint to get his impression of working on this unique project. Andre explains why the song hit so close to home.
Mike Womack (MW): When I was speaking with Andy, I mentioned that I could hear the passion in your voice. Did you feel strongly about this song?
Andre Saint (AS): Absolutely, it’s such a strange and uncomfortable time and everyone in the world is affected. We all fear what we are facing now, and the uncertainty of our future where our normal, everyday actions are now carefully considered and constantly questioned.
AS: This song makes you realize that actually, our future is not bleak at all; people are pulling together and supporting each other during these tough times and despite concerns for their own safety they are standing up, fighting and doing what is right to protect one another and preserve our way of life.
AS: I feel this is a strong and emotional track and as I sing it fills me with a great sense of pride and gratitude. The impact of this song is that I now feel an appreciation and connection with the people I’m singing about despite having never met them. It’s a feel-good song and its purpose is to make you look around at your colleagues and feel like you’ve been through this together; it’s your soundtrack and my wish is that you all hear the words of support from the whole world through this music.
MW: I couldn’t’ believe it when Andy told me you had a background in manufacturing. It is amazing that you were able to be part of the manufacturing anthem. What specifically is your background in the industry?
AS: I have been involved in manufacturing all my working life. I am the technical director of a special purpose machinery design and manufacturing company providing for the automotive, medical, and healthcare industries. We are having to adapt now to support our healthcare system through the manufacture of healthcare equipment and mask making machines.
MW: As a person with such deep roots in manufacturing, why do you think the industry is important?
AS: This is why the manufacturers are the unsung heroes – everything we use and take for granted has been manufactured; from our basic needs of water supply, food, clothing, and housing to cars, phones, televisions, and everything in between. Not to mention the jobs they provide. Without these industries we have nothing.
A dark chaotic stain on the world in the form of COVID-19 led to a renewed respect for a critical industry, manufacturing. Doctors and nurses are putting their lives on the line each day and so too are the manufacturers of this great country. Remembering all those that had no choice but to show up to work and keep the world moving is vital during times of crisis. Without domestic manufacturing capacity, this devastating pandemics’ impact could have been far worse. Andy White, Andre Saint, Sally White, and the entire team at New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program was able to create a true manufacturing anthem to celebrate the state’s manufacturers and bring to light the true impact of these ‘Unsung Heroes’.
The full 3 minute version of ‘Unsung Heroes’ will be unveiled at Manufacturing Day 2020. Register now for the virtual event!