Julian Watson and Makai Keur Workshop

On August 18, days before Julian Watson and Makai Keur were to leave their homes in Franklin, Tennessee and head to college, they were in a sound studio in Nashville. They were hard at work fine-tuning “Charles’s Song” with their Songwriting Challenge music director Benjamin Rauhala and mentor Shakina Nayfack. This song, from their soon-to-be-posted-online musical is about Charles Williams, a soldier fighting in the Great Emu War of 1932 in Australia. Charles has just found out that Mavis--the woman he loves--has been with his commanding officer and “brother in arms” Major GPW Meredith.

Nayfack observed, “We arrived here yesterday already having a really strong piece of material to work with and then it was just about finding ways we could enhance it, make the storytelling a little clearer, find some juicy words to up the lyric quality.” Rauhala added about the song, “It’s really rich dramatically which allows the music to be rich. There were so many colors we got to experiment with.”

Photos by Andi Whiskey and video by Victoria Hutter. In the photos, Makai Keur is in the striped shirt, Julian Watson is wearing glasses, Benjamin Rauhala wears a pink shirt, and Shakina Nayfack is bald and to the right of the group. The video also features vocalist Benjamin Gallagher.

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