When he got stuck in Florida at the start of the pandemic, Bronx resident Clint Mouriño, received a call from a stranger in Tampa Bay that caught his attention.
St. Petersburg, Florida resident and Manhattan transplant Michelle Passoff was at the other end of the phone, inviting Mouriño to join an all-volunteer team to work on a project to energize voting. Songwriters, singers and music and video producers aged 16 to 77, most of whom did not know each other before meeting on Zoom during quarantine, created an original song compelling folks to get out and vote.
In August, the Voice Your Vote 2020 music video was launched, a dancehall tune with a bit of rap sung in both English and Spanish. An ASL version for the deaf and hard of hearing community also launched. So far, it has nearly 100,000 views on YouTube.
“With all the negativity and things going on in the world we needed something uplifting,” said Mouriño, who co-directed and co-produced the video.
Along with Mouriño, Passoff found Nawlage, a renowned producer with Bronx roots and Trinity Sanchez, a 16-year-old rapper who lived in the borough until 2018.
Mouriño, 33, is a multi-award winning film, commercial and music video director and splits his time between Tampa and the Grand Concourse. He explained to the Bronx Times that while the video was geared toward the Tampa audience, the goal is to have other cities and states use it.
Since its launch, officials from Tennessee, Dallas and Miami have all contacted him about tagging them in the video. He added that getting monetary compensation for the project was not important because of its message.
Photos courtesy of Michelle Passoff
“When you heard about the project and the reason behind it, that made the whole difference,” he explained. “Seeing the passion in everyone’s eyes, that’s what really sold me.”
The largest fingerprint on the lyrics and beat was Nawlage, 33, who spent eight years in the Bronx and was the music director for Voice Your Vote 2020. From 2008 to 2013, he gained fame in the Bronx for his dancehall hits and often visited schools with his CDs to encourage kids to stay in school.
Nawlage, who is always up for making beats, said this was a learning experience as he had never voted before.
The few times he had went to vote there were issues, so he became discouraged and didn’t care much for it. He said in his culture, surviving was often more important than politics.
“I’m Hispanic, our whole family is trying to get into this country and trying to make it at the same time,” he explained.
But after doing the song, his views quickly changed. He registered to vote and he is eagerly awaiting his absentee ballot.
“First off, it’s [registering] really not hard” he said. “I always said I guess my voice didn’t really matter. The reality is, if we all go and vote, we’re actually doing something.”
Sanchez grew up in Gun Hill and went to P.S. 105 from kindergarten to third grade, then moved on to P.S. 68 where she participated in orchestra from third to fifth grade. During that time, she trained to play the cello. Sanchez then went on to Cornerstone Academy for Social Action Middle School in Wakefield.
While she cannot legally vote yet, she jumped on board when she was contacted to make the song.
“What got me interested in doing this projected is that I didn’t know much about it,” she said. “What is politics about? I know it’s going to be important in the future for me.”
In fact, after doing the song and video, she registered to vote. At first she thought voting was complicated, but after doing research, realized it’s quite easy.
Sanchez stressed that everyone needs to vote.
“I rather be aware of it [voting]now than take action later on,” she said. “I have an idea of what kind of person I want running this country.”