Original song created by freshman to communicate peace

After writing lyrics in his English class, freshman Matt Hansberry used music to be an advocate for creating peace.

After assigned a project for Ms. Paula Leider’s English 9 class in which the students had to choose a topic that they care about, freshman Matthew Hansberry decided to write a song about choosing peace. “The song is about how to not judge somebody by their cover and it listed some things people could do in order to choose peaceful actions,” Hansberry said.

Performing his song with the accompaniment of the choir and the piano, Matt Hansberry premiered his original song at mass.
Keenan Schember
Performing his song with the accompaniment of the choir and the piano, Matt Hansberry premiered his original song at mass.

Hansberry has always enjoyed singing and music, and he often sung at mass at his elementary school, St. Therese. In fourth grade, he got very involved with music when he joined his school’s choir. “I would sing at mass every year at my school,” Hansberry said. Recently he used singing as a way to help cope with difficult times. Nine months ago, Hansberry’s good friend’s mom, who was a big part of his life, died. He sang at her funeral and now Hansberry dedicates all the songs he sings to her. “I sing to this day for her because I know she is in heaven watching down on me. I sing to feel better and for her,” Hansberry said.

Because of his lifelong appreciation for music, Hansberry easily decided to write and sing a song for his homework assignment. This was the first time Hansberry both wrote and performed an original song in front of a large audience, and although he was new to this process of writing his own lyrics, it came naturally to him. “It took me about a day to write it and two to three days [to actually perfect it],” Hansberry said.

Although writing the lyrics to both the singing and rap portion of the song came easily, Hansberry struggled coming up with a melody to go along with his carefully crafted lyrics, so he he asked Mr. Adam Petroski and Ms. Nancy Stockhaus, from the BSM music department, to help with the melody. Stockhaus was also influential in making sure Hansberry sung at the Catholic Schools Week mass. “I was singing my song for Mrs. Stockhaus so we could record it for English class and Mr. J. and Mrs. Stockhaus thought I should sing it at mass,” Hansberry said.

As a musician, Hansberry understands the importance of being flexible and being under a lot of stress. On the day Hansberry performed, he had planned for a fellow student to rap a portion of the song but a few hours before mass the student decided not to rap. Instead of cutting the rap portion out of the song, he decided that he would rap it himself. This was the first time Hansberry had ever rapped. “I got up there and rapped and I felt like I was on top of the world,” Hansberry said.

Hansberry’s music career doesn’t end here and he hopes to hire a producer in order to record some of his songs. Hansberry is currently writing lyrics for more songs and he hopes to continue singing in the future. “I want to work with a producer and hopefully come out with an album,” Hansberry said.