It’s one thing to talk about making the world a better place to live. It’s another thing to actually do it. The members of Carter’s Chord, through actions and their song “Love A Little Bigger,” are making a difference and hope to inspire others to do the same.
Sisters Becky Robertson, Emily Fortney and Joanna Ott have partnered with international humanitarian organization World Vision. It’s through that organization that they’ve been sponsoring a little girl in the Dominican Republic.
The siblings recently took a trip to Central America to not only meet their sponsored child, but also to get a feel for the work that World Vision does. While there they took the opportunity to shoot the video for “Love A Little Bigger.” The words to the song are inspiring, but when coupled with the honest, real-life people and places shot during the trio’s trip, they are even more impactful.
The Show Dog-Universal Music artists say their work on “Love A Little Bigger” has been extremely rewarding and the favorite thing they’ve done as a group. If they sound proud of the song and the video it’s because they are and they have every right to be. They are providing a positive message that aims to inspire action on both grand and small scales.
We caught up with Carter’s Chord to find out more about the video, the complete story behind it and what they and others can do to make an everyday difference.
Keepin’ It Country: First off, what’s the story behind the writing of “Love A Little Bigger”?
Emily: It’s a song that I wrote a few years ago. We had taken a trip, a similar type trip with a similar type organization, to Guatemala. We saw first hand the devastation there and the conditions that these people were living in in these communities.
I came home and, obviously, we were thinking about how lucky we are back here in the States and how much we’re blessed with in our lives. I just sat down one day and this song kinda came out. It ended up being on our EP that we released in April called “Wild Together” and it’s the last track on the album. It’s really become kind of a fan favorite and kind of a theme song for Carter’s Chord.
We really want to spread the word and the message of loving bigger and appreciating what you have. You know, whatever that means to you — loving bigger. Whether that’s calling your Mom on the phone or a bigger act than that. We really want to live that way in our lives. You know, loving bigger. And that’s kinda how the song started.
KIC: How did Carter’s Chord and the song get aligned with World Vision and the video that came about from that partnership?
Becky: When we first started talking to World Vision it was last July. We had a mutual friend who had just started working over there and he really felt that World Vision, as an organization, would be a great fit for Carter’s Chord. When we started meeting with them we brought them our music and just wanted them to know what we were about. After hearing all of our songs and talking with them, we really felt, and they felt as well, that “Love A Little Bigger” would be the perfect kind of theme song to kind of encapsulate the message of World Vision and encouraging people to sponsor children.
So we had this brainchild that really kind of started last summer. We started sponsoring a little girl from the Dominican Republic through World Vision. We had this idea that it would be really neat to be able to go down there and visit our sponsored child and be able to see firsthand what World Vision does. If we were going to be spokespeople for them, we want to be able to speak intelligently about and really be able to see what’s really being done down there.
We decided to pair it with actually filming a music video for the song. World Vision’s never done that before with any of their artists – having a full-on music video based around a song that also incorporates a child sponsorship. So it was a really cool idea and it’s been in the works for a long time and it’s been so cool to see it come to fruition now.
KIC: The video was shot in actual slum areas of the Dominican Republic. Were you surprised by the things you saw there?
Joanna: There are no actors in the video. All of those kids are World Vision sponsored children. A lot of those scenes were shot in river slums. It was definitely surprising to go down there and to see that. It’s devastating in one sense. But in another sense, I feel we really learned a lot from these kids. They have such a great attitude about life and they were just so positive. You can tell in the video how joyful they are. There isn’t a scene where someone isn’t smiling.
That was really neat that we got to witness that because that’s really what “Love A Little Bigger” is about – appreciating where you are. They have so much less than us and yet they’re so much happier than we are in this country in a lot of ways.
There were no actors. We didn’t have any “glam squad” with us. We did our own hair and makeup. All of those moments you witness in the video were real moments, so that was really neat.
KIC: The video projects such joy. Obviously there wasn’t a director saying, “Okay, kids. Let’s do it again, but this time try to smile.” It seems everything was so real and natural.
Emily: It was. Especially that scene in the second verse when we’re walking through one of the river slums with the kids. Those kids were literally just coming home from school that day. An advance had scouted out that area as maybe being a good place to film. Those kids just kinda came along and they saw what was going on. It’s probably the first time they had ever seen equipment like that or anything.
They were more than happy to be a part of it. They were excited about it. We ended up doing that scene several times just to get the right thing and by the end of it…You know, they don’t speak English or anything like that. But they were actually singing along with the song by the end of the scene. It was really cool to see the song come to life and to see genuine feelings and the expressions behind these kids’ faces.
Becky: It was pretty overwhelming to hear them singing the song with their accents. It was kinda cool because when we would be done filming Chris Hicky, our director, would turn the equipment around and the camera around and the kids would all crowd around and watch the playback. They all wanted to see their faces and everybody was laughing!
It was a really, really sweet moment that I know none of us will ever forget. I know that for Emily, as the songwriter, to hear those children’s voices singing that song back to her, that was a pretty special moment.
KIC: Even though the kids didn’t speak English, it’s pretty clear things like joy and laughter are universal.
Becky: It is! When we were coming up with the concept we wanted to create something that would inspire people. There are so many things out there that tackle this kind of topic, but you tend to see the real sadness and the “flies in the eyes” and all that kind of stuff. We really wanted to set out to make a video that was joyful and that was impactful and inspiring. We wanted to remind people that there’s a bigger world out there and that we all can take part.
I think that especially with the joy on the children’s faces and the impact they’ve had on our lives, we really feel that we’ve accomplished that with what the final product was.
Joanna: I think it’s rare that an artist gets an opportunity to give back like this. Obviously, what we do is music. Speaking of things that are universal – music is so universal. So it was really neat to be able to connect with these kids through music. Even though there was a language barrier, we could still sing songs together. We went to a preschool and sang some kid’s songs for them and that was a lot of fun. It’s just neat to be able to connect through that.
KIC: Obviously, the three of you carry the emotion of the trip with you, but did you bring back any physical items that remind you about the people and your message to love a little bigger?
Becky: The day that we met our sponsored child and her Dad and her little brother, we had brought some things for them to have. Her name is Franyely. She is four years old and absolutely beautiful. We had brought a little backpack full of some clothes and some toys for her and her brother. And we brought stickers.
Each of us put a heart sticker on our hands and they each had a sticker that was in the shape of a heart on their hands, as well. I still have my little sticker. It’s floating around. It’s a reminder of them and every time I see it I think about “what are they doing today?” and “what was their morning like?”
It’s such an amazing experience to sponsor a child because you can write them letters and they write letters back to you. You really can take part in their lives. So that definitely reminds me of our trip.
Emily: I didn’t necessarily take anything back, but I know sometime in the near future I want to get a tattoo. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I want it to say “love a little bigger” just as a reminder to look down and just always remember that throughout your day.
Going down there we learned that “love a little bigger” in Spanish is “amar un poco más.” So I would love to get “amar un poco más” somewhere in a tattoo in the near future. So that would be like a permanent souvenir! (Laughs)
KIC: What action do you hope your song inspires people to take?
Emily: That is a good question. With partnering with World Vision, obviously our goal is to tell people and make people aware of what World Vision can do and to inspire people to want to be a part of that. Child sponsorship is a huge part of what World Vision does.
If we can inspire as many people to sponsor as many children throughout the world, that would be absolutely amazing! It would be a wonderful movement. But we know some people aren’t in the position to do that or it’s not in their heart to maybe go outside the U.S .or whatever it might be to sponsor a child.
As long as they can listen to this song and think about loving bigger in their own lives. Whether that be helping a friend out or saying “I love you” to somebody or making up with a friend that you had an argument with or calling your Mom and Dad on the phone. It’s whatever “loving bigger” means to you. If we can spread that and have people keep that in mind throughout the day, I think that’s the ultimate goal.
KIC: It can be surprising how people lose sight of how doing something that may seem small can make a big difference. That’s not just in the lives that they touch, but it also comes back to them and enriches their life.
Becky: It’s so true! Even something as simple as a smile. You know, stepping outside of yourself for a moment. You might not know that person in front of you and that might be the only smile they get all day.
I think that if people can hear this song and just have it be a daily reminder that the world is bigger than just us in our little comfort zones and to step outside of that and see how we can do things differently.