The singer of the Oscar-nominated-and-rescinded “Alone Yet Not Alone” song, artist Joni Eareckson Tada, says she has hope for Hollywood, and, believe it or not, it’s at least partly because of the fracas over the song.
“Biblical themes are being given a platform,” she told WND in an interview. “It’s very exciting. It’s wonderful the entertainment industry is listening to so many families who want family friendly values.”
Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed from the neck down after a diving accident as a teenager, has spend decades leading her own Joni and Friends organization, succeeding as a painter, authoring 40 books and advocating for the disabled.
The song, from the movie of the same name, “Alone Yet Not Alone,” has been in all the headlines for weeks because of its unlikely nomination – it’s from a low-budget, limited distribution Christian-themed film – and then the decision by the Oscars to renege on the nomination.
Eareckson Tada, an affiliate artist with Artists for Life, said first of all that she considers it a victory that the song was nominated.
“I was absolutely delighted when I heard the nomination. It showed me a great many people in the Academy voted for the film from among more than 70 songs…”
She said she was hesitant to record at first, but after listening, felt compelled.
“For me, as a quadriplegic, it is so powerful,” she said. “‘We can lean upon God’s arm … if we stumble, we are alone, but not alone.’
“It’s an unusual message for a song, and the double thumbs up from so many members of the Academy was encouraging,” she said of the melody and words that Billboard put at No. 19 on its chart, and rising.
She said the rescission, based on the Academy’s decision songwriter Bruce Broughton should not have emailed people he knew about the song, was a disappointment.
“I don’t understand the inner workings of the entertainment industry, and Academy politics,” she said, suggesting there are some in Hollywood who feel “a low-budget, limited release Christian film should not be elevated to a global platform.”
That’s just sends a sad message to producers of small independent and Christian films, she said.
For her, the message is especially significant because of her physical limitations.
“Here I am a quadriplegic sitting down in a standup world,” she told WND. “There are plenty of times I feel alone.”
The message, then, reassures. “It speaks to me so powerfully.”
She hopes others, too, get the message, especially in Hollywood, which not always has had a reputation for family fare and inspirational projects.
“I look at people in Hollywood. I sit in the shadows of talented people like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, their great talent is so remarkable,” she said. “But take away the spotlight, take away the glitter, and they have problems, just like I do.”
She said, “The song cuts across all those lines and gives people a common denominator to express if God is with me, then I’m not alone.”
There’s the “Son of God” project coming, there’s “Noah’s Ark,” there the recent Bible project, and more, she noted.
Listen to the original song yourself below:
The public already has voted in favor of the song, and even Hollywood insiders, voting in a daily Hollywood Reporter snap poll asking "Which should win best original song?" on Jan. 17 had 56 percent choosing "Alone." A day later it was 71 percent. On the 19th it was 72 percent and on the 20th, 75 percent.
Still not finished, though.
On Jan. 21, 78 percent picked "Alone," and on Jan. 31, it was 82 percent.
Other artists already have started following Eareckson Tada's trailblazing path, with Kathy Rodriguez online with her own recording of "Alone":
There's also been pressure on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to revisit its decision to exclude "Alone" from this year's awards ceremony.
Academy member John Debney, who scored "The Passion of the Christ" and more movies called it a "grave injustice."
"The nominations for work in film are meant to be merit based. Finally, a song from a small film barely seen was deemed worth of nomination. That is the way it should work. But alas, the winds of PC and cronyism seem to be at work here."
His recommendation to friends? "Express your outrage."
Gerald Molen, the award-winning producer of "Schindler's List" told Fox News he'd like the Academy to reconsider, "revisit the issue, take a look at all the facts."
Several organizations and critics have suggested the film was picked on for its faith-based story, with the Los Angeles Times reporting, "It may not be long before outlets with a Hollywood-skeptical bent begin making hay of the fact that the academy has never rescinded a nomination due to improper campaigning until a faith-based movie with a quadriplegic pastor came along."
At the petition site called change.org, the "Artists for Life" are seeking a change in the Academy's decision.
Director Albert Strong said, "Bruce Broughton has a long and distinguished career which deserves better treatment at the hands of the Motion Picture Academy."
On the site, Joshua Dugger wrote, "The Academy Awards got it right the first time, they need to re-instate the nomination and stop the anti-Christian bias."
"Songs are highly subjective," explained George Escobar, who served as a producer, co-director and co-writer on the film "Alone Yet Not Alone." "The fact that some people do not like it is perfectly reasonable and acceptable. Others absolutely love the song.
"Comparing 'Alone Yet Not Alone' against the popularity of other Oscar contenders is natural. But we should also compare it to the message it conveys," he continued. "It's the only song that is about God's faithfulness during our times of affliction and persecution. Most of the other songs are about rebellion and self-reliance. Isn't it nice to have some contrast in the marketplace?"
"Alone Yet Not Alone" had a successful limited release in September, but won't be introduced to nationwide audiences until this summer.
It is scheduled for nationwide release June 13, 2014.
Escobar, who also serves as WND's Vice President of Film and Television, is co-founder of the Advent Film Group and has directed several top documentaries for WND Films, including "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment" and "The Rabbi Who Found Messiah."
As WND reported, the film "Alone Yet Not Alone" is based on the true story of a frontier family caught in the throes of the French and Indian War in 1755.
The movie is based a novel of the same name written by Tracy Leininger Craven, which tells the struggles of her ancestors in the mid-1700s when British and French forces were fighting for control of the American continent.
The Leiningers, immigrants from Germany who sought freedom to worship in the New World, began to carve out their homestead farm around Penns Creek at the outskirts of western Pennsylvania. Despite the arduous work, the Leiningers labor joyfully, nourished by God's promises, which they memorize during their daily reading of the cherished family Bible.
Then the unthinkable happens: In a terrifying raid, Delaware warriors kidnap the two young Leininger daughters, Barbara and Regina, taking them captive hundreds of miles away and adopting them into their native culture. Yet through their captivity and eventual escape, they never lose hope and "their faith becomes their freedom."
Watch the trailer of the film below: