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Arts & Culture

WestVirginiaVille Provides Place For Creatives; Debuts New Song

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Courtesy WestVirginiaVille.
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A scene from the music video "Be The Change" on WestVirginiaVille.com

The digital revolution has created new outlets for long-form journalism, music and storytelling as print publications close down. One example is the website WestVirginiaVille.com.

Douglas Imbrogno created the site to feature West Virginia creatives. Later today, he is going to premiere a new music video by Mountain Stage bandleader Ron Sowell called “Be The Change.”

Imbrogno and Sowell spoke with Eric Douglas about the project and the song debut.

Douglas: Explain to me what WestVirginiaVille is.

Imbrogno: WestVirginiaVille is a multimedia magazine that is able to do everything from regular print feature stories to short documentaries, music, videos, photo essays. It's really a multimedia magazine on the web.

Douglas: So why did you create WestVirginiaVille in the first place? What need are you filling?

Imbrogno: One of the first things that goes when newspapers contract and shrink and their staffs are decimated, is feature writing, long-form feature stories of the interesting people that make up a place where people live. And that's a great loss. There is a need for stories about the way that life is lived on a daily basis; why it's worth living in West Virginia; why people stick it out in a place with some seriously benighted politics at times.

Douglas: So rather than a print magazine, you have all the advantages of moving imagery and sound on top of everything else, plus no printing costs.

Imbrogno: I hope eventually to spin off special edition print publications because that's where I came from, growing up reading everything from the New York Review of Books to Esquire. That's why I wanted to become a writer. But we're also able to do things like short documentaries and we just bought a drone. So we're doing a lot of really cool drone photography in West Virginia. It's really amazing because we're seeing images and views of West Virginia that I've never seen and I think most people have never seen.

Douglas: You've got a new video coming out. Tell me why this was an important direction to go for WestVirginiaVille.

Imbrogno: Ron came to us with this song called “Be The Change” and I just am in love with this song. I’ve probably heard this song 40 times and I still love it. WestVirginiaVille exists to demonstrate that world class work can be created with these new digital tools in a place like West Virginia.

Douglas: Ron, tell me about the song.

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Courtesy WestVirginiaVille
Ron Sowell sings in a scene from the music video Be The Change.

Sowell: This song came to me out of the political turmoil of last year, and it was an inspiration about “what can I do as a person to change the world or change my little corner of the world?” I felt compelled to interject this into the national conversation.

Douglas: What do you want people to take away from the song?

Sowell: Ideally, I want them to reconsider how they relate to other people. That they would consider not judging people and be more accepting and to listen to each other.

Douglas: Is there a particular lyric? Any favorite lyric in the song that kind of summarizes it?

Sowell: It starts off with “fighting in the street, shouting on the screen, who can be heard, when everybody screams.” And the chorus is, “Be the change that you dream of, Be the change that you desire. Be the healing water, the tames the raging fire. When the hurt and hate divide us. It is the love that will unite us. Be the love. Be the change.”

The music video premieres tonight at 7 pm on WestVirginiaVille’s Facebook page and will be available after that on WestVirginiaVille.com.


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