Last month, Will.I.Am made history when his track “Reach for the Stars” was the first song to ever be broadcast from another planet down to Earth.
Now the Black Eyed Peas rapper is being featured in a television special tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on the Science Channel. The special, i.am.mars: Reach For The Stars will detail the creative and technological process behind making the feat happen.
NASA’s spacecraft Curiosity landed successfully on Mars on August 6th, and a few weeks later it broadcasted Will.I.Am’s track 350 million miles down to Earth. The event was live streamed on NASA’s website and presented to students and NASA engineers.
Will.i.am said in a statement that NASA administrator Charlie Bolden called him after seeing the music artist’s ABC special i.am FIRST: Science is Rock and Roll last August. Will.i.am was invited to attend the Curiosity launch that fall, where the idea of beaming a song down from Mars began to form.
“I had no idea that one day I would have a meeting at NASA,” Will.I.Am told The Telegraph. “And I never thought in a billion years that a song would hitch a ride on a rocket, and when it lands on Mars, it would be beamed back to earth.”
But besides being a scientific first, Will.I.Am wanted the song to convey a bigger message.
“For us to continue to advance, we need to remember how important it is to give the youth of today all the skill sets for tomorrow,” he told The Telegraph. “That’s what’s going to change our country around and it’s my new mission now to use music, use my career, to inspire this youth in America.”
He enlisted the help of two youth choirs, along with a 40-piece orchestra, to create the track. The children sang the verse:
Can’t nobody hold us back
They can’t hold us down
They can’t keep us trapped
Tie us to the ground
We told you people that
We don’t mess around
When we turn it up
Please don’t turn it down
Will.i.am said he wrote the verse with the intention of speaking to youth. “It just represents the kids,” he told The Telegraph. “These 10 year olds, when they turn 30, what are they going to be doing? What skill set are they going to have to even compete tomorrow?”
Will.I.Am has a history of promoting the importance of education. In 2009, he founded the i.am.angel Foundation, which provides scholarships and other academic opportunities to students.
The television special tonight will expand on those goals by promoting STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education.
“We hope our viewers are as inspired as we are by the creativity, imagination and daring of both Will.I.Am and NASA,” Debbie Myers, general manager and executive vice president of the SCIENCE network, said in a statement.
Follow Ugonna on Twitter at @ugonnaokpalaoka.