Sufjan Stevens’ infamous 50 states project is probably one of the most well-known legends in the indie world, having never come to fruition beyond the performer’s acclaimed records Michigan and Illinois. While Stevens’ may never complete this project on his own, comedy writer Joey Clift has taken the project among himself, recruiting over 200 musicians to finish the 50 states project.
Dubbed the “Our Fifty States Project” this musical endeavor ranges a variety of styles, that usually venture into comedic or parodic territories. Clift first posted about this project on social media, eventually garnering hundreds of emails from musicians and other creatives who wanted to participate.
If you want to participate in a big, dumb comedy thing while you’re stuck inside, hit me up ASAP! pic.twitter.com/mn7TuJhtyB
— Joey Clift (@joeytainment) March 19, 2020
While the project includes some professional musicians, others are simply amateurs that wanted the chance to take part in the project. One professional musician involved with the project was Stelth Ulvang, who is a long times Stevens’ fan who toured with The Lumineers. His song “One Rare Skeptic” was made in tribute to astronaut and former New Mexico senator Harrison Schmitt.
Others such as audio producer Deb Edattel have less musical roots but took the opportunity to use this project to spend time with their family. Edattel recorded “I Want to Go to Louisiana” alongside her seven-year old child, as Stevens’ music held an important place in her heart, as her late sister introduced her to the musician, and she met her husband at one of the artist’s concerts.
The entirety of this project has amounted into 510 songs, which can be found here, creating entire albums for each of the 50 states, including two new albums for the aforementioned Illinois and Michigan records and an album dedicated to the moon. “I think it was a kind of group therapy for all of us,” Clift explained in a statement to Pitchfork. “Since Sufjan Stevens didn’t make an album to honor these people’s states, they largely had to do it themselves.”
Stevens released his latest studio album The Ascension earlier this year. This record was supported by the singles “Videogame,” “My Rajneesh,” and “America.” He also released a new age record alongside his step father Lowell Brams called Aporia this year.
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna