May 16-- May 16--Just before tipoff of the last regular season game of the 2018-19 Indiana University men's basketball season, funk legend William "Bootsy" Collins appeared on the video screens.
Wearing a top hat, sunglasses and black gloves with red IU logos on them, the former member of Parliament-Funkadelic announced a new "promotional fight song by IU Soul Revue, Marching Hundred and the Jacobs School of Music."
The 46-second video was posted to the IU Bloomington Twitter page that same day. Then, nothing.
Two months later, the full version of the new fight song has yet to be publicized. A recording exists, said Charles Sykes, executive director of the African American Arts Institute at IU. Whether it will be released is uncertain.
"There is a strong possibility that it will happen," he said. "There's no contract, no written agreement, but the desire is that we will release it at some point."
To explain the delay, Sykes pointed to the various entities involved with the project.
Collins' relationship with IU began more than a year ago when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member visited the Bloomington campus for a public conversation organized by the university's Archives of African American Music and Culture. The event began with a 15-minute performance of songs from Collins' music career by the IU Soul Revue.
Collins attended the Soul Revue's rehearsal beforehand and became fascinated with the ensemble, one of three under the umbrella of the IU African American Arts Institute.
The relationship grew from there, with Collins inviting the IU Soul Revue to open for him at the Cincinnati Music Festival in July 2018 at Paul Brown Stadium. The idea for remixing "Indiana Fight" came from conversations between Collins and James Strong, director of the IU Soul Revue.
"Indiana Fight" is one of four fight songs listed on the Marching Hundred website. LeRoy Hinkle, who graduated from IU in 1923 with a degree in botany, composed "Indiana Fight" that same year.
"It just so happened this song, as of this year, went into public domain," Sykes said. "That makes it a lot easier."
Strong sent a clip of the song to Collins, who made some tweaks. The IU Soul Revue recorded the rhythm section, horns and vocals from a studio in Bloomington. IU's Big Red Basketball Band, comprised of Marching Hundred members, recorded in the room next door. The result is "Indiana Fight" with some added pieces and segments.
"The theme is recognizable in this arrangement, but it's been Bootsy-ized," Sykes said.
The remixed "Indiana Fight" is slower, like funk music, Sykes said. It also has heavier back beats. Interludes have been added for special arrangements.
The goal is to eventually debut the full song with a live performance, but organizing such an event is no easy task. It requires coordination between Collins' schedule and those of several students. The IU Soul Revue is not active in the summer and has several performances already on the books for the fall. Marching Hundred members have to learn shows over the summer for football season in the fall.
"Anything we're going to do has to be worked on after we return in the fall, after registration and auditions, and it has to be worked in between all these other kinds of activities," Sykes said.
Releasing the teaser video served as an acknowledgement of the work students had put into the project. Working with someone who has been in the industry for as long as Collins is a great opportunity for aspiring musicians, Sykes said. It also brought students from different musical groups together for the first time.
"That kind of collaboration is a fleeting art form in itself," Collins said in a statement.
Exactly what the public will get to see or hear, whether that's a live performance, a recording or a full music video, remains to be seen. But all parties have expressed interest in doing more.
"We are committed to taking this further," Sykes said.
Contact Michael Reschke at 812-331-4370, email@example.com or follow @MichaelReschke on Twitter.
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