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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Lift Me Up

Finalist in Music Video


The goal of the "Lift Me Up" music video project is to infiltrate pop culture with disability/Deaf narratives using high-production art created by a diverse cast, crew and artists intersecting with disability. 

The song "Lift Me Up" was written in memory of disability activist Judy Heumann who passed away earlier this year. Judy left behind a legacy of community, with many of her mentees a part of the RAMPD (Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities) network. With award winning artist Lachi,  Broadway composer Gaelynn Lea, and acclaimed songwriters April Rose (BMG), James Ian, engineer Kulick (SONY) and artist Genevieve Ramos--all artists with disabilities--the song released through RAMPD Records/United Masters in July 2023, Disability Pride month. The "Lift Me Up" music video, directed by Day Al Mohamed (PBS) and Catriona Rubenis-Stevens (Oscar nominated short film) featured Deaf ASL artists Otis Jones, Amber Galloway and Nell Russell at the front and center, with Tony-winner Ali Stroker narrating the audio description.

The aim was to create a high-quality anthemic song and powerful video that could break onto radio charts, find national syndication and get the mainstream public talking about disability and accessibility, not from a place of charity or inspiration, but from a place of culture and pride.

Strategy and Execution

"Lift Me Up" began with the passing of disability icon Judy Heumann in March of 2023. Cultural activist and charting artist Lachi began writing the song to cope with the loss of her mentor. She was later joined virtually by artist/actor James Ian, Broadway musician Gaelynn Lea, and BMG songwriter April Rose Gabrielli to write a song of memory, community and celebration they soon realized was much larger than them. While mixing the song with producer Michael Herrick in April, the idea that such a powerfully anthemic track should have a music video came to light.

Judy Heumann passed a few months before the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act and 33rd anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act in July—laws that her early activism directly impacted. So the aim was to release the music video in July to not only amplify her activism, but to bring the diverse disability communities together in celebration during Disability Pride month.

For maximum impact to non-disabled viewers, the video would need to incorporate as much accessibility and disability inclusion as possible, while still being a visually competitive piece of art: this would mean including American Sign Language, Audio Description, Captioning, an authentically disabled cast, and people with disabilities in and leading the crew. The plannings, rehearsals, travel and shooting for the video would all need to be done within a month, to leave room for marketing and promotion.

Towards end of April, PBS director Day Al Mohamad and Oscar nominated director Catriona Rubenis-Stevens jumped on board bringing with them a diverse and talented production crew. The idea to have popular Deaf ASL performers front and center with the original artists projected on screens in the background, all opened by a celebrity voicing short audio description, came to pass at these virtual director/producer planning meetings. 

Getting an all disabled cast from around the nation in one place at the same time was ambitious. However, at second weekend in May, a few of the artists happened to be in NYC for one reason or another, so the video was shot then. Kulick (SONY), another RAMPD member, mastered the track remotely, and Tony-winner Ali Stroker recorded the audio description remotely as well.

Lachi went to a few labels and brands for partnership throughout May; however, some reacted with hesitation to back such a novel concept while others simply couldn't match the time table. So Team Lachi self-funded the full endeavor while partnering with RAMPD Records (Lachi's affinity network "Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities") for the record release.

With the compelling video piece completed, there were very little funds for marketing and promotion. But wide reach was the whole point of creating such a high-caliber project. Fortunately Lachi struck a sponsorship deal with Google to help with the captioning, Audio Description, and other accessibility aspects of the video, as well as promoting it on their platforms. Coldplay, a great friend to Team Lachi, also jumped in to help promote, come July.


Released in July 2023 by RAMPD Records (black-disabled owned), the song debuted to massive community support. Within 24 hours the song/video received over 600,000 Instagram views, with 100,000 on YouTube and 1 million on Tiktok within its first few days. Coinciding with Disability Pride month, Google, Android,, Coldplay, Broadway World and a host of influencers, brands and Spotify editorial lists offered release day support, followed by video features on Hollywood Reporter, PIX11 New York Living, and BETSoul, sparking viral discussions on Judy Heumann’s legacy throughout LinkedIn to Facebook. The song peaked at #29 on the Adult Contemporary U.S. radio charts.

“Lift Me Up” found support from national, cross-disability organizations like Diversability, RespectAbility, Easterseals, the Association of Higher Education and Disability, the 1IN4 Coalition, and the Association for American People with Disabilities, to disability-specific support from Deaf, blind, neurodivergent, and learning disability communities and communities living with other physical or chronic conditions. 

International disability leaders and Influencers like Oscar-nominated director Jim Lebrecht, Emmy-winning artist Keith Jones, viral creators Imani Barbarin, Haben Girma and Molly Burke, and Judy Heumann's family all lended vocal support to the tribute.

The video has since won or placed for numerous awards, with a debut in Canada at the Vancouver International Film Festival, where it has been dubbed a Disability Pride anthem.


Video for Lift Me Up

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Lachi Music


Entry Credits