The candidate in the studio with Jeff Berkley (left) and Peter Bolland.
Ammar Campa-Najjar, who got national publicity as a mixed-race underdog running to unseat an indicted congressman can sing, too.
A just-released music video has him singing an original song written by his former professor at Southwestern College, Peter Bolland. “I wanted an Americana type song in the style of Tom Petty, Bon Jovi or John Mellencamp,” says Campa-Najjar, who grew up in Chula Vista. “I’ve known Peter for years and I asked him to help.”
Professor Bolland taught Campa-Najjar ten years ago in one of his philosophy classes. “He wanted a song with a working-class vibe,” says the singer/songwriter/guitarist. “He reached out to me Friday [October 6], and we were in the studio the next Wednesday.”
Ammar Campa-Najjar with Jason Mraz after recording “I Believe We Will”
“I asked him to write a song that says we can choose love and equality over hate and fear,” says Campa-Najjar.
Bolland obliged and came up with the chorus to “I Believe We Will” overnight. Campa-Najjar asked Bolland to retool some of the verses because the candidate wanted it to be more localized. Bolland admits there are no other songs he knows of that call out Temecula or San Marcos by name. Both cities are in the 50th Congressional District now represented by Hunter.
Ammar Campa-Najjar, I Believe We Will
Bolland asked longtime record producer/musician Jeff Berkley to squeeze him into Berkley’s North County studio as soon as he could. Bolland created the arrangements and asked musicians Sharon Whyte, Rick Nash, and Larry Grano to jump in for the last minute recording. Jason Mraz happened to drop in just after Campa-Najjar sang his vocal track. Mraz later tweeted support for Campa-Najjar’s candidacy.
“I remember him carrying a guitar around campus when he went to Southwestern,” recalls Bolland. “He had longer hair then. He was real quiet in class, but he was real interested in coming in after class and talking about philosophy.”
The two started jamming together. “He actually recorded a song I wrote called ‘Martin King and Coretta’ that I recorded with my band Coyote Problem. We sang that song together at a fundraiser in Ramona in July. When my semester with him ended, I stayed in touch with him as he went to SDSU and dual-majored in philosophy and psychology.”
After “I Believe We Will” was recorded, Bolland says the campaign made a music video out of it using still shots of campaign volunteers. “I think the video is kind of a ‘thank you’ to the hundreds of volunteers who are working on his campaign.”