SAN ANTONIO – She’s not in the video and neither is her voice, but Tejano music pioneer Shelly Lares is the moving force behind “I Am a Child (Don’t Put It All on Me),” a music video Lares produced and directed in advance of the one-year mark of the Uvalde school shooting.
“If you don’t cry when you hear this song, you’re not getting the message,” Lares said.
The song’s stark message is conveyed by a child, Allie, a 12-year-old up and coming young artist who Lares is mentoring.
A year after the loss of the 21 lives at Robb Elementary and dozens more from gun violence throughout the U.S. since then, Lares said, “When are things going to be done is really what it’s about.”
Lares said the lyrics were written Grammy Award-winning songwriter and vocalist Rebecca Valadez.
Being that Valadez is also a mother, Lares told her to think of the conversations she’s had with her daughters, and to use their voices in writing the lyrics.
“She just nailed it,” Lares said about lyrics asking questions like, “Why you got put it all on me? Why’s it going to be on me?” and “How do I wrap my head around things to keep myself alive?”
Being that Allie is still a child, Lares said she told the young singer she would be the voice of so many other children asking those questions, “to the adults, to the government, to people who are dropping the ball when it comes to protecting our children.”
Having been in the music industry for 40 years, Lares said, “If it was going to really resonate with people, I think it had to be through a song.”
However, Lares said she released the music video with little to no fanfare out of respect for the Robb Elementary families.
Lares said she wanted the music video to be simple and done tastefully, with no high-tech gimmicks or special effects.
Even the location outside San Antonio was somewhat stark except for a large cross on the ground made of rocks. Surrounding it were children dressed in white with their arms raised to the heavens.
“We’re really showing the love and prayers for the angels, all of them, all 21 of them,” Lares said.
Lares said she wanted to do this as a tribute to the families devastated by the tragedy, and for the entire community of Uvalde where she would often perform before she retired from touring.
She said “the gut punch” aimed at decision-makers was the closing shot of the memorial outside Robb Elementary and children’s voices reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Lares said it’s her hope that “I Am a Child” becomes an anthem of sorts for many in the Uvalde community pushing for gun reforms and for answers about what happened that day.