By Erick Johnson
How do you tell a doctor or nurse they’re doing a good job during the coronavirus pandemic?
For Bronzeville’s star singer Mae Ya Carter Ryan, a song from Grammy-winning Hip Hop singer Alicia Keys will do.
It’s the latest achievement from Ryan, whose promising career began in Chicago with a string of showstopping performances, including one at the Chicago Crusader’s 75th Anniversary gala in 2015. Since then, the Crusader has followed Ryan’s career as she continues to gain new fans.
Her mother, Ina Carter, has made many sacrifices to help her daughter’s career while overcoming racial and economic barriers.
This month, Ryan, a 19-year-old sophomore at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, released a new video on YouTube that’s gaining views among fans.
With her trademark deep, mesmerizing voice, Ryan sings the song “Good Job,” which Hip Hop singer Keys released near the start of the pandemic on April 23, 2020.
It’s a song dedicated to essential workers at hospitals across the country, which have been flooded throughout the pandemic.
Ryan’s version of the song on YouTube, is over four minutes long and features multiple shots of singing notes with an impressive range that adds depth to “Good Job.”
There are shots of her singing while playing the piano, which is another one of her talents. There are also shots of Ryan standing while singing. In between these shots are camera cutaways to essential workers at hospitals. There are also cutaways to background musicians playing violins and cellos.
With her rich vocals and the collage of pictures of essential workers, Ryan shines. The recording flows well as Ryan’s voice moves with a steady pace that rises as she hits high notes with stunning power and emotion near the end of the song. The effort results in a masterpiece and heartfelt tribute to essential workers in thankless jobs that pulled many away from their homes and families.
Because of the pandemic, Ryan has spent more time at home than at Berklee during her two years at the Boston school. In-person learning at the school was cancelled last March when the pandemic struck. Berklee had planned to reopen last fall but reversed its decision as Boston experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases.
During a telephone interview, Ryan said Marlon Solomon, a Gospel and R&B artist at Berklee, chose her among several singers to do the song. Solomon was in a recording studio and was unable to speak to the Crusader for this story.
Ryan said she and the background musicians performed separately for the video because of the pandemic. She recorded the song in January in a studio at 80th and Stony Island in South Shore. The other musicians were recorded separately in Boston. The taped performances were put together during the post-production process.
Ryan said she was given just two days to learn the song after she was chosen for the task.
“In music school, if they [professors and producers] want you to learn a song right away, you have to do it,” Ryan said.
Ryan enrolled at Berklee after graduating from the prestigious Interlochen Academy for the Arts, a world-renowned boarding school in Interlochen, Michigan, where many children of A-list celebrities attend. With the help of donors and fundraisers, Ryan’s mother has been able to give her daughter a top-notch education that she could not afford on her own.
The video ends with a note that honors Alcide Cruz, an essential worker at Berklee who died on February 27. The note does not give the cause of death.
Ryan said the song encourages essential workers not to “give up on anybody. Everyone is here for a reason. Everybody matters. That’s what I’m trying to get across.”