"Come Join Us" song captures the work of Rotary
While sitting in the audience of the 2010 International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA, professional speaker and songwriter Jerry Mills was awestruck by the message and multimedia presentation of 2010-11 RI President Ray Klinginsmith's theme address.
"It was a transcendent experience," says Mills, who was attending the event with Kristin Duckart, then governor-elect of District 6250 (parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin). "It was the first time I truly got what Rotary is about. I spent the rest of the week getting to know amazing people from all around the world. They struck me as the most caring, passionate, and compassionate people I had ever encountered.
"Up to that point, Rotary had been a concept. After that, it became a passion."
In May, Mills awoke in the middle of the night and wrote the lyrics to the song "Come Join Us," which has since been featured at several Rotary events and will be performed at the 2011 RI Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Mills, now a member of the Rotary Club of Wisconsin Rapids, says writing the song was an emotional experience. "I could see people of every race and on every continent singing the song in their native language."
Mills performed the song with a chorus of Rotary Youth Exchange students at a conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in July, and again at the Rotary Club of Detroit’s 100th anniversary celebration later that month. He then offered Rotary International the opportunity to use the song to promote the mission and spirit of Rotary worldwide.
In August, Mills joined more than 50 musicians, singers, arrangers, and recording engineers in Nashville, Tennessee, to produce a recording of the song. Video from that recording session was combined with images of Rotary club projects throughout the world for an inspirational music video, produced by Bob Gallagher, of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland, Ontario, Canada.
"The song makes Rotarians proud to be in Rotary," Gallagher says. "It's also a great video to show potential members to get them interested in Rotary."
"He's a master at what he does," Mills says of Gallagher. "I call him ‘the wizard.’ The visuals bring the lyrics to life and tell the story of Rotary in a powerful way."
Mills's newest keynote speech, "Thankful for the Chance," was inspired by the song and incorporates it into the presentation. He is slated to deliver the speech at several district conferences in April and May.
"The song and video bring the energy of Rotary into the contemporary music scene," Mills says. "To see this all come together has been both humbling and profoundly fulfilling."