By Jeff Gilliland
As a picturesque sunset settled over Richards Memorial Field, Rachel Hale said Friday that she could not have been more happy that the producer of her upcoming Christmas video, “Can You Hear the Sound?” picked Hillsboro as the location to shoot it.
After Hale picked 2008 Hillsboro High School graduate Shelby Wertsbaugh to produce the video, Wertsbaugh decided it would be neat to bring her talents back to her hometown and incorporate the HHS band into the video.
“I’m excited to be here. Hillsboro is a wonderful place,” Hale, the 2013 “American Idol” runner-up, said in between filming different scenes.
She said, “It was totally the Lord’s” handiwork that her outfit matched almost perfectly with the Hillsboro majorettes’ uniforms.
“The whole thing has been a testimony really,” Hale said. “Then I come to find out that the band’s uniforms are all red and black, which are really Christmas colors, and their uniforms have ‘H’s’ on them, and my last name is Hale. It was very much a God thing. The whole thing has been really neat. Just blessing, after blessing, after blessing. It really is a God thing.”
Hale said she met Wertsbaugh at the Nashville Life church in Tennessee where they both live and Hale leads worship.
“She’s become one of my very best friends,” Hale said of Wertsbaugh. “She is an incredible producer and videographer.”
The singer said she couldn’t have been more happy that Wertsbaugh decided to shoot the video in Hillsboro, where the producer thought she could maybe show students that their dreams can come true.
“Honestly, I was really excited. I’m from the small town of Prescott, Ark., with a population of about 3,500 people. I love small towns. There’s nothing else like them. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the town.”
About 60 members of the HHS band took part in Friday’s video shoot.
“I remember seeing her on ‘American Idol,’ and living in such a small town it’s weird,” Hillsboro junior Daniel Jacky said. “You never imagine meeting somebody of such fame and reputation. We’re hoping she takes us on tour with her,” he laughed.
Hillsboro Band Director Kevin Grow said he learned about the opportunity for his band about a month ago.
“Julie Wertsbaugh (Shelby’s mom who works at the school) just walked in the band room one day during rehearsal and said, ‘Do you want to be in a music video?’ It was just like that,” Grow said.
It seemed interesting, Grow said, because, “it almost sounded like a joke.”
Wanting a little more information, he went on YouTube and discovered that Hale was for real.
“I was pretty shocked they picked Hillsboro kids,” HHS senior Jacob Stanley said.
“I couldn’t understand why they picked Hillsboro. I was confused by it,” senior Celina Brown said.
But they both said they were pretty excited when they were offered the chance to appear in a music video.
“I thought it would be pretty cool. It’s something different, for sure,” senior Keely Bennington said. When they asked if the band wanted to be in it, “I said sure. It’s my senior year. Why not do something different and fun?”
Junior Christopher Ford said he thought it was a great idea. “I thought it would bring publicity to Hillsboro and give us something to look forward to,” he said.
Grow said it was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities for his band members.
“Who knows,” Grow said. “Maybe 10 years from now she’ll be another Taylor Swift and then it will really be something.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.