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“Meant to Be Free”: The Music Video

By Lauren Choplin

Did you know that NhRP President Steven M. Wise, back when he was an undergrad, planned to be a musician before he decided to become an attorney? As he told Charles Siebert for an April 2014 feature in The New York Times Magazine,

NYT Mag Quote

Steve’s fondness for music happened to intersect with the cause that has become his life’s work—the fight for nonhuman rights—when he and songwriter Alex Forbes co-wrote a song, “Meant to Be Free,” to play in the closing credits of Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker’s documentary about the NhRP, Unlocking the Cage. Their song wound up getting replaced by “I Shall Be Released,” a song by a Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winner you might know named Bob Dylan (Steve was happy to cede the floor!).

But we wanted to get this song out into the world nevertheless in part because it’s a good reminder of how, in the often exhausting and drama-filled world of animal advocacy, everything does and should always come down to the nonhuman animals themselves: recognizing how they suffer in captivity and celebrating the peace and joy they experience when they are released from captivity and able to live freely among others of their kind.

Here’s what Maureen O’Kicki, who produced and co-directed the video, said about how and why she made it:

“When observing human and nonhuman animal behavior, whether it is tool use, maternal bonds or communication, many scientists see human animal and nonhuman animal behavior as falling on the same continuum. The images I chose for Steve’s song depict our shared traits and illustrate that both human animals and nonhuman animals are autonomous beings meant to live their lives unfettered. But one doesn’t need to be a scientist or a lawyer to look into the eyes of a fellow sentient being and see the depth of feeling and, if shackled, the yearning for freedom. “Meant to be Free” expresses this simple but profound truth.”

And so we present the brand-new video for “Meant to Be Free,” produced by Maureen O’Kicki and co-directed by Maureen O’Kicki, Chris Hegedus, and Frazer Pennebaker. Thank you so much to the Katika Nuru Project and wildlife photographer Tom Dodson at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for donating some of the footage that appears in the video. Please feel free to share the video using the social media links above!

“What would it take/to set them free/to break every chain/to rattle the cage/of history?”

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