Grammy-winning country superstar, actress and women’s activist Jennifer Nettles knows that women’s voices matter. It’s what led her from regional Atlanta alt/torch singer to MULT-PLATINUM duo Sugarland, Broadway musicals, television and film work – and it’s what sparked “I Can Do Hard Things,” a solo track written by Nettles and produced by Julian Raymond that speaks to how women struggle and overcome life’s challenges every day.
A woman of action to match her songs, Nettles posted an essay about the song’s essence on Medium.com (https://medium.com/@Jennifer_Nettles/https-medium-com-jennifernettlesonhardthings-f4fdda9e1b84). “I saw that we are resilient,” Nettles, the 2019 recipient of the Human Rights Campaign Ally for Equality Award, wrote, “That change is hard, and loss is hard, and being a Mom is hard, and living one’s Truth is hard. That Truth became so loud that I had to sing it.”
In recognizing that our world is not merely black and white, Jennifer realized that seeing, hearing and empathizing with others’ transcendent moments is where the power of overcoming originates. As a result, Jennifer spearheaded a campaign that was filmed in Nashville and Brooklyn with the help of director Katie Kauss, director of photography Alex Chaloff and producer Jake Basden. A first look at the music video will premiere on NBC’s TODAY with Kathie Lee and Hoda this Friday, March 22. Shot in black and white, it shares some of the stark realities that women overcome and suggests the community that is forged by the shared experience of getting through hard things. As Nettles believes, it is the hard things that not only make us stronger, but also bring us together.
“This song took on a life quickly and unexpectedly. For me, in writing it, I was just writing my own Truth and story. But what I have come to see is that so many women share this Truth and that inspired me to make an invitation. This video is an invitation to a community; the beginning of a beautiful tapestry of women sharing their stories of doing hard things. This kind of community is both sword and shield. When you share your own story, you own your power. And when you own your power, it is harder for someone to take it from you. When you share in community, you protect each other
’s power and that makes it even harder for someone to take it from you. Owning your power is a shield that says, “You can’t take this from me!” Holding your sister’s power is a sword in front of her that says, “Don’t even THINK about trying to take this from her!”
The full music video will be released on Friday via YouTube while a PSA was released today and can be viewed here: https://jennifernettles.lnk.to/ICDHT_PSA. Both include a small representation of real women and the stories of “hard things” in their lives. A business owner and advocate, a research assistant, a photographer, a glass ceiling breaker, a poet and teacher, a journalist, a mother and a firefighter; each of these women confront adverse and trying circumstances and refuse to cave in, proving – as the song suggests – they, too, can do hard things.
Beyond their job descriptions, these women also have a truth that speaks to their ability to transcend. A transgender woman living her truth, a student pursuing an advanced degree while care-giving, a live entertainment executive forging a new path in an industry of men, a young single woman adopting a child without a partner, a woman of color sharing her cultural truth in academia, a Me Too survivor finding her own resources when the obvious remedies failed, a military wife and a first responder holding her own in a male-dominated industry; their stories are the tip of an iceberg heading – hopefully – to a world where being a heroine isn’t just leaping from a tall building in high heels.
The PSA and music video will be shared on various social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. People are encouraged to share their own stories and triumphs using the #ICanDoHardThings hashtag on social media so we can find you. This is only the beginning.
The Women of “I Can Do Hard Things”
Jaime Combs: A former business owner and stylist, she’s an advocate for the transgender community, as well as a wife, mother, and grandmother.
Morgan Leigh Garner: A singer/songwriter, mother and Army wife. She is raising her family, chasing her music dreams and holding down the home front, as her husband serves our country, as a Special Forces Solider.
Kate Davis: A photographer who also works as a Chief of Staff for an actress/activist, she’s adopting a baby as a proud single woman.
Audrey Ynigez-Gutierrez: A graduate research assistant, she is a care-giver to her disabled mother.
Holly Gleason: Journalist and consultant, she has spent the last two years quietly battling the profound aftermath of a Me Too sexual assault.
Ali Harnell: A high level career concert and event promoter, she has been chosen as the President of Live Nation’s Woman Nation to empower women in the entertainment industry.
Danielle Randolph: An active firefighter and member of the National Guard, she challenges perceptions of women in male-dominated industries.
Caroline Randall Williams
: Award-winning poet, performance artist and food
writer, creating art that tells the untold stories of women of color in her life and in the world.