Staten Island’s PS22 is down with the #Ham4All challenge, and it’s a tear-jerker.
Type the words “Hamilton cover” in the search box on YouTube and you’ll discover there are roughly 6,710,000 videos there of people belting out the hit Broadway musical’s songs — some with more skill than others. But the rendition of a “Hamilton” tune that made the show’s writer and director Lin-Manuel Miranda cry on Wednesday comes from the most famous public school choir in the world: Staten Island’s PS22 Chorus.
As part of the #Ham4All Challenge, a viral social media campaign that Miranda launched, the New York City-based chorus covered “Dear Theodosia,” a song from the first act of the musical. Through the challenge, the Broadway hitmaker hopes to boost support for the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition, a group of 12 nonprofits that advocate for fair and humane immigration reform.
Miranda is asking people to post video clips of themselves singing or rapping their favorite Hamilton tune. It’s no wonder, then, that the PS22 Chorus chose “Dear Theodosia,” which “Hamilton” character Aaron Burr sings to his baby daughter. Kids in the chorus, which was founded in 2000 by Staten Island native Gregg Breinberg, come from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds — and given that 37% of New York City residents are immigrants, many of them, or their parents, were likely born in another country.
Lyrics like “Some day, some day. You’ll blow us all away,” perfectly express the hopes and dreams that immigrant families have for their kids when they come to the United States. But in recent months, schools nationwide have had to address the fear some students have that they — or their parents — will be deported.
This isn’t the first time that songs from “Hamilton” have become a rallying point for the immigrant experience. In February, the phrase "Immigrants, We Get the Job Done," which is the title of a song on the “Hamilton Mixtape” album, became a common sight on signs at protests against President Trump’s immigration ban.
The chorus kids singing the song does give chills — so it’s understandable that Miranda would tell his 1.48 million Twitter followers that it made him cry. As for the #Ham4All challenge, it’s not likely that many participants will be able to outsing the PS22 Chorus. Folks who have reason to believe they’re better off singing in the shower can always contribute to a Prizeo campaign that benefits the effort. If they do, they have a chance to win tickets to the Los Angeles premiere of “Hamilton.”