The Story Behind Sandra’s Tribute Video

We lost Sandra Moran three years ago today. It’s still difficult to believe that this talented, energetic woman is no longer roaming the earth making everyone she meets smile and feel like they’ve been friends for life.

On October 14, 2015 I got an email from Sandra Moran with the subject line “Hey ladies . . . Bad news.” I read it and read it again and then again. It seriously made no sense and it seemed like some kind of horrible cosmic joke. I sent a text to Claudia and asked her if she’d seen Sandra’s email and her confirmation finally made it terribly real.

Sandra matter-of-factly told us that the back issue that had been bothering her all summer wasn’t a pulled muscle. It was a series of tumors on her spine. She also had tumors in her liver, lungs, breast, and possibly brain. The cancer was an aggressive form and moving fast.

The initial prognosis was a year to a year-and-a-half but first they had to get her pain under control so they could start the treatment. She spent the next couple of weeks in the hospital but her pain increased and they couldn’t do anything. At that point she was allowed to go home under hospice care.

With the inevitable rapidly approaching, we thought the best tribute we could do for this amazing larger than life woman was to do a video. I always start a video with a music track so I have a structure for the visuals. The song “For Good” from Wicked, seemed the perfect song. Then I thought it would be great to get Jody Klaire to sing it. Sandra had mentored Jody in her writing and they had become good friends. When I pitched the idea to Jody, I had in mind an a cappella version. I sent her a recording of the original Broadway version of “For Good” and the lyrics so she could learn it. My vision for the video finally came into focus and I asked if it was possible to get a video of her singing.

Even though Jody’s health was more problematic than usual at that time—she wasn’t even sure she’d have to lung capacity to sing—she decided to book time in her old recording studio to do a proper job. While we were arranging this, we lost Sandra on November 7, 2015. Jody had booked the studio time the day (more or less the day, since Jody lives in Wales) before Sandra’s memorial service a week later, so we were under a tight deadline to have the video done in time for the memorial.

I spent the week getting the visual part of the video ready. First I collected all the photos and videos I could of Sandra and arranged them in some kind of logical way. Then I dropped the Broadway version of “For Good” into a track and arranged the visuals over it. I even left spaces at logical spots in the music where the video cuts to Jody singing.

It was also touch and go about whether Jody would be healthy enough to make the forty mile trip to the studio and do the recording. But on the day of the recording, Jody made the trip and sent me two full-length takes. I removed the Broadway “For Good” from the draft video and dropped in Jody’s take. Not only did it fit with only a couple of tweaks, it matched the vision I had of what I wanted the video to look like. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like a miracle. Jody had also reworked some of the lyrics to reflect her own feelings about Sandra and her voice was beautiful and perfect.

And here’s the video

– Casey