Country singer and songwriter, Jennifer Nettles is looking ahead to a better tomorrow in more ways than one. The Grammy-award winning musician and artiste extraordinaire released a tender, tear-jerking music video earlier this week for her rendition of "Tomorrow" — the beloved showtune from Annie. Suffice to say, its heartfelt arrangement and poignant message of resiliency through heart tugging visuals is the musical hug we all need right now.
In an exclusive with PopCulture.com, the 45-year-old Sugarland frontwoman who is currently practicing quarantining guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic at a family home, opened up about the melancholic single's kismet-like release after an incredible fan reception following its debut on social media.
"I think that art's highest calling is to offer us reminders of our highest selves, whatever it is and whatever the context, whatever times we're going through, so if this song can remind us of our own strength and hope and resilience, then that to me makes me feel connected to my fan base," Nettles told PopCulture.com via telephone on April 1. "Like they feel more connected to the world and [that] makes me feel like I’m doing my job. That's what I want: is to just say 'Hey, chin up out there, my loves because the sun will come out tomorrow and we can do this.' And just to remind us of that."
Nettles adds that while hope is one of our brightest beacons within the human spirit, she hopes "as many people that need to hear it can, and that it does help" them amid this unprecedented crisis the world has not seen in this lifetime.
"Tomorrow," which Nettles collaborated on with Broadway orchestrator and arranger, Alex Lacamoire — the mastermind behind beloved showtunes from Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen — is actually a part of a bigger project, per the country star. Likening the melancholic piano rendition of the Annie song to a moment of serendipity, she admits she "loves the way the universe works sometimes and the way inspiration works."
"[Alex] and I collaborated on a whole album of theatre songs, rearranged. 'Tomorrow' happened to the be the last song we recorded in the last session on the last day of finishing up this album — and it happened to be on March 12th," she said, sharing how it was also the day the pair discovered Broadway was closed amid concerns of the growing pandemic.
"Things really started taking a turn then," Nettles said. "And when [Alex and I] walked out and we found out that Broadway was closed, there's just a moment of gravity to that, right? Of like, 'Okay, things are changing. What's about to happen?' I was quickened by that."
The announcement of Broadway's closure was followed by President Donald Trump the next day declaring the U.S. was in the midst of a national emergency. It was at this moment that Nettles admits she reached out to Lacamoire about "Tomorrow," asking what he thought about releasing the track early.
"I reached out to him and said, 'Hey, would you be open to putting this song out in the world just as a gift right now? Because the poignancy of that timing and the way this song feels and the message that it has, I think is so perfect and it's really on my heart to offer it this way,'" she said. "He was totally open to that."
Nettles reveals after that moment, she started working with her friend, Jason Patrick Sands, another member of the Broadway community on a music video together. "[I] really just wanted to make it have a message that is resonant and resilient and hopeful, all be it weary to offer it some authenticity to do the time that we're in right now," she said.
The music video featuring Lacamoire's stunning piano shows clips of devastating moments in U.S. history such as Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terror attacks; alongside footage of civil rights movements with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and most recently, Greta Thunberg. As the video comes to an end, fans can catch more hopeful and happy footage, including a clip of Nettles with her son, Magnus complemented by a PSA from a medical care worker who holds up a sign, reading: "Be responsible. Stay home because I can't."
Nettles admits she had a "pretty clear idea" of what she wanted for the music video and shows demonstrative examples of the United States' resilient spirit.
"I wanted it to show like, 'Look, we've been through hard times before in this country, so let's show what some of those hard times were and at the same time, what those hard times inspired,” she said. "They inspired great leaders, they inspired and forged strong communities. So, to show what has come out of those hard times and to also remind us as you see through the second half of it of those beautiful everyday moments that we're going to get back to."
Photo credit: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images