Batavia resident Lisa Barrett is hoping a lot of people will get online and vote for her song, "When You Look at Me," which has made it into round three of the international "Best Original Song" contest.
If she wins, she'll get her own Web page, and her song will be sent to dozens of recording companies, music labels (large and small), producers and agents.
Barrett's song was one of 100 from around the world chosen for the contest. Of those, 48 made it to round two and, you guessed it, "When You Look at Me" was one of them.
Now it's one of 24 that have made it to the third round. If Barrett makes it through this round, she'll be halfway to her goal of winning the competition.
Voting began this week and extends through Monday. In order to vote, go to www.bestoriginalsong.com and set up an account -- it's free and only takes a minute.
Barrett wrote and performed "When You Look at Me" in memory of her nephew, Austin, who lost a brave battle with cancer in February of 2000, just shy of his 2nd birthday.
"My goal is to touch people's lives with the music in Austin's memory," Barrett said. "I feel I'm doing this not only for Austin, but for all children who have lost their battles, or are still struggling with life-threatening illnesses."
She came up with the idea for the song about a year after Austin died.
"I walked by his picture, and this particular time I stopped (to look at it). My eyes met his, and I said out loud: 'I can almost feel your touch when you look at me.'"
According to Barrett, "something happened" in this instant that changed her life.
"It was like a switch went on. I heard a melody in my head, with the lyrics coming at the same time. I felt compelled to grab a pen and start writing."
It took her a few weeks, but when she finally finished the song it became, in her words, "a wonderful grieving outlet."
"After that," Barrett said, "the switch kept going on for other songs. Whenever something hit me hard emotionally -- whether it made me feel sad, happy, angry or it was funny -- I would write a song about it."
Her songs are not just about things that affect her directly. As she got further along in this new chapter of her life, she became inspired by other people's experiences as well.
In recent years, she wrote a musical called "Can't Bully Me Now," which deals with the experiences of children who are bullied in school. This song has been performed multiple times by students at St. Joseph School in Batavia, and educators from other districts have expressed interest in it as well.
The amazing thing is that prior to the composition of "When You Look at Me," Barrett had never been a songwriter.
"I didn't plan this. It's a path that has been laid before me, and I follow it, not always knowing where I'm going next."
Along the way, she has learned that "even after so much pain, the sun can shine again."
Originally recorded at Affinity Music in Nashville, Tennessee in 2005, "When You Look at Me" is part of an album with the same title. Barrett wrote and performed 10 other songs for this album, one of which -- "Share Your Light" -- was the theme song selection for Western New York's National Night Out in August 2010.
In an ironic turn of events, Barrett decided that the time had come to turn "When You Look at Me" into a music video around the same time that officials from Best Original Song contacted her. They had found her music online and were interested in having her as a contestant.
Barrett said she submitted her entire album. They chose "When You Look at Me."
"It was like everything was coming full circle. It brought back to me the reason I had done everything in the first place."
She and her husband, Kyle, filmed the music video this past winter at Genesee County Park. They were there one day, and found that the atmosphere was ideal.
"The snow was falling perfectly," Barrett recalls. "And I just said to my husband, 'We've got to do it now.'"
Shooting at the park in the winter was not easy. Barrett said her "toes were frozen" as she made this video.
But she kept going, and it was worth it in the end.
Have a look:
Once you've created an account and are logged in, click on either of the two bars on the home page that read "Live Show! Click Here to Listen," then click on "Third Stage Show #1." From there, you'll know what to do.
Remember, you only have from now through Monday to vote!
Final Note: Barrett's CD can be purchased through her Web site, www.lisabarrettcd.com. Portions of the proceeds benefit Essential Care, a pediatric home care program of Hospice Buffalo for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Top photo -- of Barrett at Affinity Music -- taken from www.lisabarrettcd.com, second photo submitted by Lisa Barrett.