On Wednesday, March 24, the Winona State University Student Union partnered with Health and Wellness Services to bring pop singers Aly & AJ to virtually perform a few of their top songs and talk about their lives.
George Micalone, director of Student Union & Activities, organized the event and tells how Aly & AJ insisted on bringing representatives of the non-profit CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) along with them to speak about COVID-19 vaccines.
“The talent agency let us know that [Aly & AJ] were partnering with CORE to bring awareness to the COVID relief effort,” Micalone said. “I brought this idea to Health and Wellness Services and thought this would be great way to get students talking.”
The event was set up as a townhall; a conversation between students about Aly & AJ’s experiences writing and recording music while in quarantine.
Along with prepared questions from moderators, students sent in questions to be asked live during the virtual event.
“At the beginning of COVID, things were tough,” Aly said. “AJ and I were working on new music to release and then all of the sudden we could not meet face to face, which really put a stint in the whole creative process.”
AJ continued by telling the audience how they brought a team together to make sure they could get their work done, even during the pandemic.
“We eventually decided to meet in parks and other outdoor areas to create music,” AJ said.
Aly followed by saying, “We eventually moved to recording in studios, after each session everyone would go get tested to make sure we were all being safe and staying healthy.”
Following these statements, the two artists performed their new single “Pretty Places”, which can currently be found on nearly all streaming services.
After the song, Aly & AJ took a few moments to speak with representatives of CORE to talk about COVID relief efforts.
The representatives talked about vaccine distribution efforts, including different ways people could receive vaccines and how different parts of the country were handling the roll out.
“Many places are letting people pull up to a parking lot and receive the vaccines without having to leaving theirs cars,” the CORE representative said. “We are excited because we have heard the young people might be able to get the vaccine this summer, which will make going back to school in the fall easier.”
They then performed two more singles: “Listen!!!” and “Slow Dancing.” The latter of the two was requested by the audience.
Another Q&A session followed the performance of the two songs.
During this session, students got to hear about how their relationship as sisters and how it helped produce their 2007 hit song, “Potential Breakup Song”.
“One of us was going through a breakup, there was talk of who it was,” Aly said, laughing before continuing. “This strained our relationship as sisters a little bit, but in the end, once we cleared things up, it brought us closer and really promoted our creativity.”
“I am thankful for how this period in our life brought us closer,” AJ said. “Like what Aly said: it cultivated our creativity, and we were able to write “Potential Breakup Song”.
The next day, Micalone shared some details of the turnout.
“I would say the event was successful. Over the course of the whole evening, there were over 160 unique logins and I am sure there were multiple people listening on a single computer,” Micalone said.