If you’re a queer traveler, then you may be familiar with Drag Queen and outdoor enthusiast Pattie Gonia! Well, the LGBTQ+ activist lends her vocals to a new empowering climate change anthem, “Won’t Give Up.” Pattie Gonia collaborated with Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Indigenous trans musician and Tiny Desk Contest winner Quinn Christopherson.
“Won’t Give Up” is a song about not giving up on the planet and not giving up on each other. The three artists traveled to Alaska, Christopher’s native home, to shoot the music video for the song. Captured in front of Holgate and Exit Glaciers — two glaciers that are melting due to climate change — the video is an impactful and stunning cinematic contribution to the new track.
Grammy award-winning producer Tyler Chester, who has worked with Madison Cunningham, Blake Mills, and Andrew Bird, produced the song, which also includes violinist Paul Cartwright (Kendrick Lamar, Bright Eyes, Olivia Rodrigo) and drummer James McAllister (Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sufjan Stevens).
“Yo-Yo reached out to me to collaborate on his ongoing environmental project ‘Our Common Nature,’” explains Pattie Gonia. “One of Yo-Yo Ma’s planned activations was in Alaska where I had been planning this environmental song project. We decided to collaborate on each other’s projects and reached out to Quinn as well as they’re a queer musician and native to Alaska and the rest is history. While we three come from different artistic spaces, we all share a common love for people and the planet.”
“Making this song about glaciers started as a goodbye, but through the process, we realized we couldn’t do that,” adds Christopherson. “Creating this work activated more of a fight in me immediately, and that feels powerful.”
“Alaska is an incredible part of the planet and an amazing community. I was deeply moved by my time there: I felt grief when I saw our glaciers receding and when I heard about the effects of melting permafrost — but I also left Alaska full of hope,” notes Yo-Yo Ma. “It struck me that Alaskans have so much to share with all of us about how we can navigate our relationship with the natural world, at once informed by the knowledge of the past and with future generations in mind.”
On the same trip to Alaska, Pattie Gonia, Yo-Yo Ma, and Quinn Christopherson also met with queer, Indigenous, and artist communities to specifically give back to youth. Through their efforts, they raised $66,000 for local Indigenous organizations, and “Art as Activism” workshops were held for Indigenous and queer youth.