UI staff, student create ‘Illini Anthem’

By Mateo Bautista, Staff Writer

As the football team leaves the field, a new swarm of Orange and Blue takes over with bright instruments and fancy footwork. The Marching Illini now have the field, but before they play, a booming voice echoes across Memorial Stadium with an announcement. Illini Anthem is coming for the halftime performance.

Illini Anthem is a new potential fight song that culminated from the efforts of Lamont Holden, clinical assistant professor of Audio & Recording Technologies, Barry L. Houser, director of Athletic Bands, Jarrel Young, a master’s student at the University and more.

“Being from here, born and raised in Champaign, Illinois, to growing up to making an anthem for the University of Illinois where I graduated from the University, (…) it’s a blessing,” Young said. “I’m Illini Pride to the fullest, my dad took me to all the ball games. I truly understand what it’s like to be a true Fighting Illini.”

Young said it was Holden who recognized his talents and Illini Pride that made him write the Illini Anthem.

“I’ve been working with artists here (Champaign) on and off for about 10 years, and one of the artists that stood out to me was Jarrel Young,” Holden said.

Holden stressed how having other artists such as Jarrel Young, DJ Silky and videographer Boots Howard be a part of Illini Anthem has only helped it grow.

“The more people you have invested in the song, the more diverse that group of people is, the more chances that more people are going to hear that music,” Holden said.

 After four years of getting a better understanding of selling music in Atlanta, Holden said he realized the University was the perfect audience to pitch the anthem. 

Holden said the anthem is also meant to be a learning and recruitment project, to give potential and current students a taste of what the school of music can do.

“The song represents so much; I composed the 808s, but I sampled the horns, ” Holden said. “I composed the drums, but I also used a few drum loops. It’s a representation of a culmination of all the skills I teach.” 

Holden emphasized the importance of having many skills as a producer — being able to create the music, collaborate with artists and market the final product. 

With so many parts coming together to make the Illini Anthem, Houser recognized these as important skills that music education is starting to adopt.

“There’s so many different avenues to go in this day and age, and I think that’s a great part about having Lamont Holden here and being able to share his knowledge with so many people that may have an interest beyond teaching and performing, like looking into music production and music business and things like that,” Houser said.

Houser also recognized the importance of Illini Anthem’s collaborators.

“We all have different talents and when you put these talents together it’s what can be achieved and created here that can be something really impactful,” Houser said.

Young shared this sentiment by recalling a conversation he shared with his uncle.

“What we’re doing is something very monumental, ” Young said. “For me personally, I’m still living in it right now. I was just talking to my uncle not too long ago and he was like ‘Nephew, do you really understand what you’re doing right now? You’re breaking down doors.’” 

Holden said they’re not trying to replace anything.

“It’s about finding an audience,” Holden said. “The University already has an audience. They even already have a music audience. Well, let’s serve them something new they haven’t been served before.” 

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QR Code to the Illini Anthem. Scan the code to listen.