Swaying to the music and moving her hands rhythmically to sign the lyrics of Tiffany MacNeil’s song, the sign language interpreter’s performance drew an emotional response from MacNeil as she watched.
“I’ve never seen her do it before,” MacNeil said fighting back tears.
The song is representative of so much of how she has led her life, and how she has worked to believe in unseen forces that lead you, she said.
MacNeil’s song, “Believe, Believe, Believe,” was being filmed at Tamber Bey Winery for a music video and the sign language interpreter, Ernestina Davin, was using American Sign Language (ASL) to interpret the song for hearing impaired viewers. The music video will be shown in Poland in September during a conference for European Association for Horse Assisted Education (EAHAE).
EAHAE is a platform for information, communication and education on using horses to develop and enhance leadership and communication skills in humans.
MacNeil, who worked for four years as activities manager at Calistoga Ranch, has always had a love of horses and decided several years ago that she wanted to step up her involvement with horses and blend it with her background in yoga, meditation and as a Sierra Club hike leader. She joined EAHAE last year, the first time the organization held its annual conference in the U.S.
“All these influences started to coalesce in working with horses in this way,” she said.
She knew she couldn’t go to this year’s conference in Poland, but still wanted to contribute and be a part of the conference. It has been 20 years since she wrote a song, but while watching a behind-the-scenes show about the rock music group Bad Company, she heard singer Paul Rodgers say in an interview "believe, believe, believe,” and something clicked.
It was about believing in yourself and having confidence, she said. That interview was the inspiration for her own song and the title. She emailed Rodgers’ website and explained she was writing a song for a conference and she wanted to get a quote from his song correctly.
A member of the staff responded and asked her to email the song.
It’s a happy, energetic song with a positive, uplifting message, MacNeil said.
“None of the lyrics mention horses, but horse people will get it. There are secret things in there that the horse people will understand,” she said.
Her nephew, who is a student at USC and studying music business, worked with her in the studio. The song is in a register a little higher than what she’s used to singing in so she took lessons to get more comfortable with it.
Everything about the song and the experience has come in bits and pieces, and in whirlwind fashion. She finished writing the song in May, recorded it in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago and spent Monday filming it at Tamber Bey.
Having the video interpreted into American Sign Language (ASL) was important to MacNeil and inspired by her brother-in-law, who is deaf.
ASL is a beautiful and expressive language that fits beautifully with music, MacNeil said.
To help her find the right location for the video, she contacted Napa Valley Vintners who put MacNeil in touch with Tamber Bey on Tubbs Lane. Located on Sundance Ranch with a 22-acre equestrian facility dedicated to training top performance horses, MacNeil said she found a perfect fit.
Everything surrounding the song and the music video fell into place swiftly.
“It’s been a crazy journey. It was 20 years in the making, but all happened in two months,” she said.