Song honors community firefighters in Estacada
"When we need to come together, they always choose what's right, because that's the small town fight."
So goes Jessie Leigh's latest song "Small Town Fight," which honors Estacada community members who helped battle the Clackamas County wildfires.
When the Riverside and Dowty Road fires caused Estacada to be put on Level 3 evacuation in September, many residents stayed in the area to extinguish the flames.
After evacuating, Jessica Elliot — also known as country musician Jessie Leigh — and her husband returned the next day to feed their animals. They learned that many of their neighbors had remained in the area to fight the flames and joined them in containing hotspots on the Dowty Road Fire.
"It was incredible being out there and realizing, 'there's my fourth grade classmate,'" she recalled. "There were people I hadn't seen in years, but we were all still here and coming together to fight the fires."
During the harrowing situation, a sense of community shone through.
"Seeing the devastation firsthand was sad, but it was such an emotional and hopeful feeling knowing that no matter what happened, our town will show up," she said. "All groups of people were there, young and old. It brought hope to a situation that felt hopeless."
"Small Town Fight" also pays homage to Friday night football games in Estacada.
"I thought about what our small town really shows up for," Elliot said. "Even though a small percentage play the game, everyone is there rooting them on. We all come together every week to support this thing that moves our town."
Additionally, the song honors community members who serve in the military.
"They're still fighting for us, even though they're not in our town," she said.
A video for the song, which also features guitarist Jim Pray, was released Oct. 22 and includes footage from community members fighting the fires, football games and military recruits shipping out for service. A version for online streaming services will be released in December, and a fully produced music video is scheduled for next fall.
"I'm proud to be able to bring something that tells the story of small towns, and putting it out there with all of the raw emotion behind it," she said. "It's probably one of the coolest things I've done in my music career."
Once Elliot began writing the song, the words came easily.
"It felt like a daunting task to bring it to life and do it justice," she said. "But the story wrote itself once we had the music down. Building up to it was a process, but once we sat down the words started flowing out."
For Elliot, the song is one of the most meaningful ones she's created.
"Of all the songs I've written, this is the one I can share with the world and show them who I am as a person," she said. "I want people to know what small towns are made of.
"For me, music is trying to share a story for people to connect with on a deep level. Above everything else, I want to create something that elicits a strong emotional impact."
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