The song, “Lockdown My Town,” was inspired by the stay home orders enacted by many states during the spring.

University chaplain inspired to pen song about the pandemic

By Emmalyse Brownstein

University chaplain inspired to pen song about the pandemic

By Emmalyse Brownstein
Kevin John Simon was moved by the lack of people on campus and rising unemployment numbers when he wrote “Lockdown My Town.”

The notion that inspiration strikes when you least expect it is nothing short of the truth for one University of Miami chaplain. Kevin John Simon, who began a professional drumming career at age 17 and now works with the University’s Christian Science Organization, said the melody of his new song, “Lockdown My Town,” popped into his head on an otherwise typical Saturday morning last May. Between electric guitar solos and brazen bellows of a trumpet, this upbeat tune puts a rock-and-roll spin on life during a pandemic. 

“I was brushing my teeth and it just came to me,” said Simon, beginning to sing the melody. “I heard ‘Lockdown, my town.’ Then I shaved and heard the next part of the song: ‘We’re in a lockdown daze.’ I’m not making this up. I wasn’t planning on writing a song—I’m a drummer.” 

The day before, Simon had been walking near the Stanford Drive campus entrance, where he said he didn’t see a single car on US-1 at the peak of rush hour. Later, he said he was in further disbelief when watching unemployment reports on the evening news. “That really had an impact on me,” Simon said. “The enormity of it began to hit me.” 

Following his musical revelation, Simon disappeared into his at-home studio to finish writing the song. After two weeks and a lot of fine-tuning, he sent the sheet music to Grammy-Award-winning music producer Paul Hoyle, who Simon had met through University of Miami alumnus and guitar player Joe Paulovlin. 

Hoyle, who has worked with artists like Shakira and Julio Iglesias, said he immediately heard something special. “If something has a spark, I can make a solid hit,” Hoyle said. “From the beginning, the spark was there.” So, the trio got right to work at Hoyle’s professional studio in Miami. 

The final recording, now on most major music platforms, features four other artists. Three of them are also University community members, including alumnus John Branzer on trumpet and current Frost School of Music student Angel Perez on keyboards. 

Simon—who toured with the non-profit music, volunteer, and travel group Up With People as a teen and later played in the Unites States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.—taught at Miami Beach High School for 32 years. He had never written a song of his own before. Hoyle likened the writing and producing process to raising an infant. 

“A writer that writes an idea is like a baby. Then you see the baby grow,” Hoyle said. “For him [Simon] to see step-by-step what his idea created is so exciting. That’s why I love to work in this field—I get to see the potential that comes and then how it becomes a reality.”

But it didn’t stop there—Hoyle suggested recording a music video. So, decked out in masks, wigs, and funky glasses, the group performed the song at the Christian Science Center on campus last July. 

The video now has nearly 9,000 views on YouTube, but Simon is already working on a broader reach. “The next big step is radio airplay,” Simon said. “Once that happens, we’ll have a much wider audience.”