S.C. native takes mom to Oscars after receiving nod for song from the film Harriet

Joshuah Campbell, a native of Cheraw, co-wrote the song Stand-Up with Cynthia Erivo
Updated: Feb. 13, 2020 at 5:54 PM EST
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Chesterfield County, SC (WBTV) – It’s been a few days since Hollywood’s biggest night, but one Chesterfield County family is still taking in everything they experienced at the 92nd Academy Awards.

At just 25 years-old, Cheraw native Joshuah Brian Campbell was nominated for Best Original Song for co-writing the anthem, “Stand Up” from the movie Harriet.

“It felt surreal, like, this is not happening,” said Linda Campbell, mom to Joshuah. “How did we even get here?”

Cynthia Erivo, the star of Harriet, performed the song she co-wrote with Joshuah at the awards Sunday night. We watched the performance back with Linda in her office at Northeastern Technical College. She says she still can’t believe she saw it in person.

“It was emotional,” said Linda. “I’m just getting emotional thinking about it.”

Linda was her son’s date and sitting in the second row of the Dolby Theatre. Other members of the Campbell family, including Joshuah’s dad, brother, sister-in-law, and close family friends watched the show from up in the mezzanine.

“Just to be sitting in the row with Regina King, and Cynthia and her mom in front of us and Tom Hanks over there,” said Linda, recalling the night. “We’re thankful, and this is a blessing from God because this couldn’t happen any other way- it’s just that everything lined up.”

Linda says her son Joshuah has loved music for as long as she can remember, from singing in church and grade school, to being his high school drum major. Joshuah graduated Valedictorian of Cheraw High School in 2012 and went to Harvard University.

“His essay was published in this book, ‘50 Successful Harvard Application Essays,’” said Linda holding up the book. She added, “He was voted one of 12 most impressive students at Harvard-- so he made his mark while he was there.”

It was while Joshuah was an undergraduate student that he wrote a song called, “Sing Out, March On” during the Black Lives Matter movement. As an alum, Joshuah was invited back to sing it at Harvard University’s 2018 commencement ceremony for Congressman John Lewis. Linda says Terence Blanchard, composer for the movie Harriet, saw that performance.

“Terence found Joshua that way and asked Joshuah about writing a song and Joshua said OK,” said Linda. “I don’t think he even thought about how far it would go, how many lives it would touch, how many people would hear this song or sing the song.”

But this past Sunday night, as Erivo performed “Stand Up” at the Oscars, the song’s impact was evident.

While Campbell and Erivo didn’t end up with Oscar gold, some would consider this more precious.

“I mean Harriet, I think I heard Joshuah say in an interview, had she been here, I think she would’ve been proud,” said Linda. “And those last words [of the song], those are what Harriet said before she passed away.”

Linda was referring to the line “I go to prepare a place for you.” Those words are, of course, a reference to scripture Jesus spoke in the book of John in the Bible. Tubman also had the nickname Moses who, in the Bible, led his people to freedom.

The scripture references are pretty special for the Campbells. It turns out they are AME Zionists, just like Harriet Tubman.

Keep in mind, the Campbells also share a hometown with Jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. We asked Linda what’s next for her son, and she said right now he’s finishing seminary at Union Theological Seminary. He’s also a music director for a show and completing an internship at a church in New York.

When asked if he’ll keep writing music, Linda said, “I think he’s going to be writing some more songs and of course, as his mom, I’m hoping somebody will just snag him up so we can go back to Hollywood,” she laughed. “So that’s what I hope, but we’ll see, we’ll see.”

If you were wondering who took home the Oscar for Best Original Song, that was Elton John and Bernie Taupin for their song from the movie Rocketman.

Campbell and Erivo were also nominated for “Stand Up” at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards. The song won Outstanding Original Song for Visual at the Society of Composers and Lyricists Awards. It’s also up for an NAACP Image Award.

Chesterfield County also made headlines at the Academy Awards this past Sunday night when Oscar winner Marshall Curry dedicated his live-action short film win to his mom “who grew up on a peach farm in Chesterfield, South Carolina.”

He went on to say she was, “the best storyteller I ever knew.” While Curry’s mom is from South Carolina, the filmmaker is not. However, Chesterfield is just 12 miles from Cheraw.

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