As Bethel approached the day it would officially become Bethel University, a crazy idea emerged from a brainstorming session. What if we celebrated the start of our first academic year as BU with something we’d never done before – work with an alumnus to write a song and then turn it into a BU music video? What if we invited students, faculty and staff to participate, and made it a celebration of the many people who make Bethel so special? We turned those “what ifs” into reality, partnering with Dray Taylor ’17 to write and perform the song, Zach Nelson ’17 to provide animation, and local marketing firm J2 Marketing – who employs quite a number of Bethel graduates – to produce and direct the video.
The song is a representation of Taylor’s experience at Bethel – what drew him here, the ways he grew in his faith, the relationships he developed, and the way those relationships helped propel him into his future. When it came time to write the song, Taylor freestyled most of it. “I just went with what was on my heart and those words just came straight out of me,” he says. “I put what I truly feel about Bethel into the song. I just want to tell people what Bethel did for me and then encourage them to go too.”
Taylor graduated from Bethel’s Adult and Graduate Studies program with a degree in business, which he now puts to use helping his mom run several daycare centers in Elkhart and South Bend. The kids look up to Taylor as a role model and like making their own videos using his music. He says this makes him want to write even more positive songs. “I have a platform, I’m saying things that directly affect the next generation. When you encourage someone, especially at a young age, it goes so far.”
Taylor spent time on campus last spring, filming scenes with students, faculty and staff. All of campus was invited to participate, and the video features campus offices and departments, athletic teams, student clubs, and groups from residence halls. It celebrates the ways that Bethel remains the same, even if the name has changed, by showcasing the people at the heart of our mission. Whether in 1947 as Bethel College or in 2019 as Bethel University, relationships remain at our core, serving as the conduit for the spiritual formation, mentoring, and academic excellence that helps student find their calling.
Listen to Taylor’s latest album, “7”, on Spotify or your favorite streaming service. Follow him on social media channels, @IamDrayTaylor.
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