Local Nurse, Artist Documents Pandemic Experience in Series of New Music Videos
By Emma Castleberry
Local nurse Dana Marie Seals is using her talents as a musician and actress to create a trilogy of music videos shedding light on the experience of hospital staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Because I am a nurse, I see firsthand the hardships of COVID and because I am an entertainer, I see firsthand how COVID has hit the music industry and hospitality industry here in Asheville,” she says. The Brave Asheville Trilogy is a multimedia collaboration of film and music chronicling the plight of two hospital staff members in crisis, played by Seals and actor Aaron Ybarra.
Seals started her own media company, Jaguar Shark Media, last year, and she has already worked on four albums and four music videos with the company. “I took the group of people that produced my other projects and asked them to join me in a nonprofit attempt to show the bravery of Ashevillians,” she says. This includes cinematographer Brittany Jackson, who shot and directed the films; Rome Widenhouse, who wrote the script from Seals’ concept and edited the videos; and drone operator Jeremiah Godfrey. The songs, all covers sung by Seals, were recorded at Echo Mountain Recording and feature other local musicians such as Matt Smith of The Honeycutters, Aaron Price, Vic Stafford and Aynsley Porchak.
The first film, titled Brave Asheville Episode One: A Long December, is “about health care workers and the stress on them and the hope for a vaccine,” says Seals. The film is accompanied by Seals’ cover of “A Long December” by Counting Crows, and is dedicated to Reagan Henry, the first healthcare worker in WNC to die on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are making a set of videos that show how brave Asheville has been and also what the needs are here,” Seals says. “I am hoping the videos raise awareness and maybe raise funds for charities.” Seals is paying for the entire production out of pocket, including the camera crew and music studio time. “No matter where my life leads, no matter my success, I will always, always be a nurse,” she says. “I want to keep doing this as a gift to Asheville and a way to combine film and the arts with social justice issues. That is my heart.”
Visit DanaSealsGillian.com for more information and to view the videos.