SACO, Maine — Shortly after Brandon Aull heard the tragic news that his friend, Alivia Welch, was dead, he used the power of music to help himself and others through the grieving process.
Welch, 18, known as Liv, and her boyfriend, Derrick Thompson, 19, were shot and killed, allegedly by their landlord, James Pak, after a dispute about parking and snow removal, on Dec. 29 at the Biddeford apartment where Thompson and his mother lived.
Aull, like Welch, graduated from Thornton Academy in 2012, and the two were good friends.
“She was an amazing person,” he said. “She was the type of person who could step into any room and brighten everyone’s day.”
Aull described Welch as a sweet, caring and fun person.
“I can’t think of anyone who disliked her,” he said.
Aull, 18, is a budding hip-hop artist whose stage name is B.Aull.
Music is the best way for him to express himself, he said, and a few days after Welch’s death, he decided to write a song.
“I thought it was the best way I could honor and celebrate Alivia’s life,” he said.
The song, “Liv & Let Liv” is a tribute to Welch, and through lyrics, Aull recalls memories of times with Welch, and tells the pain of losing a friend who will never be forgotten:
“Alivia, I know you hear me right now
This doesn’t make sense and I don’t know quite how
We lost such a beautiful soul, a heart of gold
If the good die young then what does that make the old?”
Aull contacted friend Zachary Greaton to produce a video for the song, and singer Elsa Curran to do background vocals.
Greaton, a 16-year-old junior at Thornton Academy, said within five to 10 minutes of first hearing the song, he came up with the idea for the video.
The video features Aull writing a letter as he is singing his tribute to Welch, and in other scenes outdoors, releasing pink balloons into the sky. There’s also a montage of pictures of Welch.
The song can be purchased on iTunes for 99 cents. Proceeds will go to Welch’s family. The response to the song has been overwhelmingly positive, and though Aull hasn’t received the sales report from iTunes yet, he estimates it has been purchased at least a few thousand times. The song, said Greaton and Aull, broke into the top 200 chart for hip-hop on iTunes.
The video was launched on YouTube on Jan. 29, a month after Welch’s death. As of Friday morning, there were more than 32,000 views.
“I honestly have yet to get a bad response,” said Greaton.
Aull said the song will resonate with people who aren’t hip-hop fans or did not know Welch.
“Everyone can relate to losing a loved one,” he said.
Greaton said the filming of the video was an emotional experience. He said Aull is an upbeat person who is always smiling, yet in the video, he has a much more somber demeanor that was real and from the heart.
The video was done in a short window of time so it could be released on the one-month anniversary of Welch’s death.
“Zach is an ambitious filmmaker,” said Thornton Academy TATV manager and arts and new media teacher Jeff Christenbury. “People who watch this might not realize that the lighting alone for the shoot took four hours to set up. This required a lot of maturity to accomplish and to do it properly.”
Thornton Academy English teacher Caryn Lasante said she is proud of Greaton and Aull.
“In knowing Brandon, Zachary and Alivia, I think this is a perfect way to remember her and pay tribute to the fine, young lady she was, and it aids in the healing process of the entire community,” she said.
Thornton Academy Headmaster Rene Menard said he thought the “Liv & Let Liv” video was amazing.
“Brandon Aull and Zachary Greaton have done something very special that has touched the hearts of the many people who knew Alivia,” he said.