Local artists in San Jose say outsourced anthem is not in tune with City's spirit

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Local artists in San Jose say a recently released pop-country song about the city is out of tune and does not accurately depict the City of San Jose.

ABC7 News introduced viewers to the song "San Jose" by 16-year-old New Zealand resident, Grace Kelly, last week.

Since then, there's been a growing debate surrounding the "San Jose" the song is promoting.

RELATED: New song from New Zealand singer pays tribute to San Jose

The singer, songwriter explained she's spent a number of summer breaks in San Jose. Kelly wrote the pop-country piece, played it for "Team San Jose," and after the city's tourism agency shared it with the public, her song took off.

"She's very talented, very good at what she does. She's going to go far," Jessica Paz-Cedillos told ABC7 News. "The critique here is that the creative community was not consulted."

Paz-Cedillos is the Executive Director of the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose. She and a list of local artists of color wrote an open letter to Team San Jose's executive director.

Go here to read the full text.

The group is calling Team San Jose's choice to use Kelly's face and voice to promote the city "deeply offensive and dismissive of San Jose's creative and artistic culture."

The artists wanted to be part of the conversation.

"San Jose is way more diverse than what was depicted on the video, pretty much," Dave Ma said. "Musically, obviously ethnically, everything."

Ma continued, "You've got to check in with the locals first if you're going to do something that's representative of the local community."

He works for Needle to the Groove Entertainment- one of several San Jose businesses behind the letter.

"It's vibrant, culturally diverse, and where was that," Paz-Cedillos said, questioning Kelly's music video. "And when we saw, for the few folks that were represented, they served as silent props."

"Our disappointment is that they outsourced musical talent," she added. "And that the creative production of the video was also outsourced."

However, others told ABC7 News the song is exactly how they picture the City of San Jose. Some pointed to Kelly's stroll through a ukelele shop in Japantown, and the views of agua fresca vendors and others at the flea market.

"That's awesome," South Bay resident Paul Rogers said, as he watched the music video for the first time.

Disregarding the debate, he said viewers need to be mindful about who's behind the song.

"Remember, this is going to be through the eyes of a 16-year-old," he said. "16-year-olds see things a little bit brighter and a little bit of a different way. Everything is hopeful and what not... and that's good!"

Team San Jose and the group of local artists behind the open letter plan to meet in the near future.
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