Behind the Voices

June 27, 2017

Fight to End Exploitation is proud to share our new awareness video!

Thank you Well-Known Strangers for creating this educational and artistic tool for us to help prevent trafficking.

Please help us spread awareness by sharing this video (Click Here).


The History Behind Voices

During the second week of December 2015, Well-Known Strangers (WKS) were approached to play at a Human Trafficking benefit at Memorial Hall in Racine, WI, on January 28th, 2016. The band decided to go above and beyond and write a song for the benefit by transforming an old love song written by Joe Adamek, the band’s rhythm guitarist, and heart-wrenching lyrics penned by lead singer Betsy Ade. The six-piece band, rounded out by lead guitarist Theodore Koth, cellist Sacia Jerome, bassist John Kulas, and drummer Roger Gower, worked together for 2 weeks to create their haunting song “Voices”. The band performed the song live for the first time at the benefit a few weeks later.

In December 2016, Adamek and Karri Hemmig, Founder & Director, Fight to End Exploitation (FEE), brainstormed the idea of another benefit concert to bring further awareness to the fight against Human Trafficking. Working in conjunction with members of WKS, FEE committee, Racine Police Department, Route 20 Music Venue, and friends of WKS, a benefit concert was set for June 10th, 2017. This time the FEE committee had bigger plans to increase visibility on this epidemic, heavily promote the concert, and launch a local campaign to last from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This campaign, appropriately named the I-94 Project (due to the massive presence of Human Trafficking crimes along the SE Wisconsin I-94 corridor), increased visibility through posters, flyers, media involvement (including FEE and WKS appearances on CBS 58 TV), presentations, social media, and interstate billboards. In addition, WKS decided it was time to create a music video for “Voices” and targeted the debut for the night of the benefit concert.

WKS Tour Manager Victor Cera, came up with the concept for the video and WKS elected Cera to head up the project. Videographer Lou Perez, who previously collaborated with WKS, immediately stepped in and volunteered to shoot the video. Cera had an ambitious plan and began by casting Isabella Smetana and Noah Chartrand as the leads in the video. Smetana and Chartrand, brilliantly talented young actors, recently graduated from Horlick High School in Racine, WI and have been active members in the Racine Theater Guild they were kids. Cera then grew the cast by adding Maren DeSonia as young Smetana, Imani Antoinette as Smetana’s best friend, Tina Guido & Steve Dumyahn as Smetana’s parents, and rounded things off by adding Becca Beesley and Jena Lynn George as additional trafficking victims. Cera finalized the cast by adding extras that included WKS family and friends, Racine Washington Park High School girl’s softball team, Keith Hemmig, Scott Abrams, Investigator Neal Lofy, and other members of the Racine Police Department. Cera and Ade directed the video and leaned on Chantel Plowman Godlewski and Melissa Beesley for their creative ideas, in addition to assisting with makeup and props. The video took roughly a month to shoot and shot locally in locations throughout Racine County and Kenosha County. Perez edited over 25 hours of footage and had the video down to about 8 minutes of footage. Adamek, Ade and Cera collaborated to edit the video down to 4 minutes.

The “Voices” video debuted the night of June 10th at the “Voices for Awareness” benefit concert, which included band performances by WKS, Bascom Hill, and Josh Krug & Friends. Audience members were moved, some of which were in tears as the video ended. In all, the effort and benefit was a huge success. The I-94 Project campaign continues on through Labor Day. Special thanks to Racine police Chief Art Howell, Scott Olsen, all individuals and organization listed above, and all those not listed that provided their time and generosity. Final thanks to Bascom Hill and Josh Krug & Friends for providing their talents to the concert.

WKS are deeply proud to give their time and talent to this cause and will continue to help fight to end Human Trafficking. To learn more about Well-Known Strangers go HERE.