When California State University, Northridge’s acclaimed a cappella group Acasola decided that it would perform the song Til It Happens to You for a student-made video, little did they know that they would later come face-to-face with the song’s writer: alumna Diane Warren ’78 (Music).
Warren viewed the video online, then told the members of Acasola that their performance had moved her to tears. The group’s video was one of 14 selected to participate in a special vote.
This contest was developed by Warren, who encouraged college singing groups to create their own videos to raise awareness about sexual violence. Krystal Allen, a member of Acasola and a journalism major, said that when the group’s members found out about the video contest, they quickly decided to participate.
“The music really inspired us, and once we found out the song was written by Diane Warren, no question we had to do it,” Allen said. “She’s a product of the school that we’re studying at. We felt so connected to the music because of who created it and the message it was sending.”
As a group, they watched the movie The Hunting Ground, which featured the song, and they formulated a plan to create the video. The theme for the video centered around nighttime walks around campus that can be scary if done alone. The end of the video features a list of campus resources for students who don’t want to walk at night alone.
The performance was also important for some members of Acasola who have been victims of sexual violence.
“We wanted to make sure we shined a light on that,” Allen said. “It was heavy, of course, but we tried to make it as positive as possible so that it was an educational experience for everyone.”
Not long after they submitted their entry, the group was invited to participate in a special fitting and performance at GUESS, a contest sponsor. They made sure their schedule lined up with Warren’s so they could meet the CSUN alumna.
“We were really excited to hear about her experience at CSUN, and to get to talk to her,” Allen said. “We were so focused on being professional, and she ended up being such a down-to-earth person. We felt immediately comfortable with her.”
Warren stressed the importance of completing their degrees and told the group how special it was to hear them perform the song she wrote, which was nominated for Best Original Song and performed by Lady Gaga at the Academy Awards in February.
“To see her moved by our rendition of her music was the most rewarding performance we ever had as a group,” Allen said. “For her to be at least a little bit inspired or a little bit impressed by us is insane.”
Voting for the video contest runs through April 1, and viewers can vote for Acasola once per day. The group invites members of the CSUN community to view the video and cast as many votes as possible.
“It would be the best thing ever,” Allen said of the prospect of finishing first in the vote, but added that is not their sole purpose for participation.
“What we really wanted to do was reach out to the entire CSUN community on something that’s such a prevalent issue on college campuses everywhere. To bring light to the fact that this is something that’s taken lightly sometimes. It’s something that’s way too common. To be able to educate students would mean the world to us, because it’s something that everyone can relate to.”