The year 2020 has been eventful, particularly in the Black community. The coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affected African Americans than any other group. According to a CBS news report in June, 40% of Black businesses closed permanently because of the contagion compared to 17% of White-owned businesses.
Black unemployment reached 14.6% compared to 9.2% of White people in June while the National Urban League also reported Blacks were three times likely to be infected with COVID-19 than whites. Beyond COVID-19, there were multiple protests in Black communities against the brute killing of unarmed Black men by the police.
To capture how eventful the year has been, Google tapped music producer and Grammy Award artiste Peter CottonTale to compose a song that describes the past year for its Year of Search.
The Year of Search typically aggregates moments and top search for the past year based on words and/ or questions people ask frequently in Google’s search engine. Top of the trends this year include Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter, and murder hornets.
“Trying to make a sound that culminates 2020 … was honestly way too sad,” CottonTale told Insider. “Because for a lot of people [the year 2020] sounded like loss, or it sounded like a lot of challenges in their personal lives.”
For this project, CottonTale co-opted 80 Black artists, engineers, producers, and managers to create the song “Together” for Google. Actress Cynthia Erivo, Chance the Rapper and the Chicago Children’s Choir featured on the song.
“All the stars aligned on this collaboration with Peter CottonTale,” Google’s Head of Production Patrick Marzullo told Insider. “The tone and story he wanted to tell through music aligned perfectly with our vision for the film, so from there it was easy to give him the time and space to do what he does best.”
Instead of composing a song that sounded like a loss or full of challenges, CottonTale decided to create a song that had a more optimistic view of how 2021 is going to be like. “Together” recognizes 2020’s difficulties, challenges and the need for communities to unite as one.
As part of the project, Google has promised to donate $15,000 to the Merit School of Music and $ 35,000 to Chicago Children’s Choir. Google had never featured a song on its homepage before until this December 23. “Together” also featured in Google’s “Year in Search 2020” video.
CottonTale appreciates the fact that he is part of a “first” with Google. He said in an interview: “It’s an honor being on the front page, but I’m so happy that this message can be delivered like across the board and have Black-led faces as well, and that Google is amazingly supportive in putting us on the forefront of that. That’s what I think it became about.”
“Together” landed on Google’s homepage December 23.