Dixie State, GENTRI Division I music video takes on new meaning with mid-pandemic release

ST. GEORGE — A collaboration between hundreds of Dixie State University students, faculty and staff and the tenor trio GENTRI was supposed to celebrate the school’s transition to Division I athletics, but after months of labor, its release on Oct. 22 amidst the latest surge of the COVID-19 virus struck a different chord: one of resilience and persistence.

The project was a music video coordinated and directed by DSU students and staff. It features the school’s orchestra and athletes representing all of the school’s sports in locations around the university and Washington County while GENTRI performs a mashup of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” and One Republic’s “I Lived.” The narrative of the video depicts young children becoming committed to their sports at an early age and transitioning into DSU athletes.

Watch the music video in the media player at the top of this report.

The project was originally intended to add to the fanfare of the school’s first season of Division I competition, which was scheduled to commence Sept. 5, but the school’s introduction to the Western Athletic Conference has been postponed until the end of November due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The video, which began production in January before the virus spread, launched last week with a different feeling than originally anticipated.

“When we started, the message was that of athletes being driven and never giving up no matter how many times they are knocked down,” DSU videographer and director of the music video Matt Black said. “Once we came back though, the tone and intent on set was completely different. Their story of drive and tenacity was now the perfect metaphor for every person on this planet. We all need to rise up and move forward, and we felt the weight of getting this message right.”

Fortunately for Black and his crew, when they returned after a nearly six-month break in production, they realized they didn’t have to retool the video to pay respects to the phenomenon of COVID-19. The themes of resiliency and dealing with adversity were a 1-to-1 match.

Dixie State University staff and students film the DSU Orchestra and tenor trio GENTRI in the newly released music video that showcases the university’s transition to Division I athletics. | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

GENTRI member Brad Robins said part of the reason this worked is because of the many parallels between being an aspiring athlete and life in general.

“Whether you play sports or not, you can appreciate what it takes to become the best, which is what all these athletes strive for,” he said. “All of us are just doing the best to be our best. I think the message of the song speaks for itself, and it speaks to that resiliency that each of us must have to deal with whatever life throws at us.”

When production of the video shut down in March, just weeks before GENTRI was slated to arrive for their parts, only a handful of the 40 final scenes were completed. Senior baseball player Tevita Gerber, a featured athlete in the video, said he was moved by the obvious amount of work the crew put into bringing the project to its ultimate completion.

“You can tell how much they sacrificed, how much time these directors sacrificed to really put in all this work and put the finished product together,” Gerber said. “That gave me the chills and inspired me overall to represent Dixie State and continue to rise through this difficult adversity we’re all going through.”

GENTRI producer Stephen Nelson plays piano in the pool of the Dixie State Human Performance Center while DSU swimmers practice overhead in the band’s video “Rise Up/I Lived.” | Screenshot courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

The final product features iconic shots at Tuacahn Center for the Arts, DSU runners in the desert and GENTRI producer Stephen Nelson playing grand piano at the bottom of the school’s pool with Trailblazer swimmers practicing overhead. When the video was launched, it exploded to more than 18,000 views on YouTube within seven days of being posted, quickly ascending to the seventh most viewed video on DSU’s page.

But beyond all the views – and perhaps more importantly – it seems to have done its job, even if its purpose shifted.

“It’s really inspiring, just watching the video,” DSU sophomore distance runner Cassidy Elmont said. “As a student athlete, thinking back over all the work … the days staying late in high school, the days working hard, pushing and also staying on top of school, stuff like that. Being here and, even with corona, being able to push through and practice your sport, that is a big thing, and it really does show that rising up.”

The video can be watched here.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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