NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Can country music help stop the next school shooting? That’s the question on the minds of the Grammy Award-winning band, Old Crow Medicine Show.
Lead singer Ketch Secor and guitarist Mike Harris opened up to News Channel 11’s sister station in Nashville about their call for change in the wake of the deadly Covenant School shooting.
“Louder than guns, more powerful than bullets flying,” Secor sang from the band’s East Nashville studio while playing his fiddle, which has the names of the six shooting victims etched into it.
The band hopes these lyrics will resonate, striking a chord well beyond their country music fanbase.
What could be louder than guns? Louder than the pain inflicted on a community hit by a mass shooting? Such thoughts overwhelmed the singer’s mind as tears streamed down his face while waiting for his third grader in the school pickup line on March 27.
“I thought, ‘Nashville, the last nail in the coffin. What if it were that way? What if the last body laid in the ground, any kid killed in their own school, what if it ended here in Music City?'” Secor said.
As artists, they have a unique lens on American society, he said.
“We get to see all stripes. We get to see red and blue, right and left all come together in the front row,” Secor said. “It’s a wonderful thing, and so looking out at a country music crowd, I know that country musicians like us have a unique opportunity to demand safe schools for our kids right now.”
Mending his heartache with action, the father and co-founder of Episcopal School of Nashville penned an op-ed in The New York Times titled “Country Music Can Lead America Out of Its Obsession With Guns.”
“This is what activism looks like, y’all. It starts as soon as it’s called for, and then it doesn’t relent,” he said.
Secor is exhausting his efforts with his band on board: meeting with senators in Washington, writing and releasing a protest song and video, going face-to-face with gun store owners, and seeking common ground to incite change.
“We are singing about it and we are talking about it,” Harris said. “As somebody who grew up in the South, grew up around guns and hunting culture, this is something that I’m very passionate about. I think in order for American life to persist, we’ve got to get a control on this issue.”
According to Secor, what is louder than guns is a collective voice rising together, so he urged other musicians to use their platforms, as well.
“I wish there was a bigger star than Old Crow Medicine Show that was cutting a song like this, that was writing a song like this. We got our platform and that’s cool,” Secor said. “We’re telling our people, and they’re listening; and we’re telling it to gun owners because we have gun owners in the audience; and we’re telling it to liberals because we have liberals in the audience; but I really wish that we could inspire somebody with a far vaster audience to stand up about Covenant School, and I think that’s a lot of what I’ve been trying to do, Stephanie, in my response to the shooting is to create a blue print for what it would look like for somebody in the music industry to stand up and say, ‘Enough.'”
The band has partnered with 97Percent, a bipartisan group of gun owners and non-gun owners that launched the “Aim for Change” petition as part of its goal to reduce gun-related deaths in America. In addition, Secor is joining 97Percent’s advisory board as part of his commitment to the cause.
“I’m not doing it for me,” he stated. I’m doing this for William and for Evelyn and Hallie and for Mike and for Cynthia and for Katherine.”