VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Quinay Gatling wanted to do something to remember her stepsister, so she wrote a song, “Granby Street,” as a tribute.
“I created the song just trying to cope with things,” she said.
Sierra Jenkins, a reporter for The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press, was one of three people killed in a downtown Norfolk shooting in March. She was 25.
The song includes Gatling’s vocals, clips from news reports, Jenkins’ parents, the vigil and more. She included the different elements to “show how people are feeling.”
As a student in the Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach, Gatling was encouraged to work on a project that could be entered into a competition. She worked with her partner in the class, Kevin Payne, under the music production category.
At first, they had created a different song. After Jenkins died, Gatling took some time off from school. When she returned, they agreed that the tribute was something more powerful and meaningful.
They entered “Granby Street” in the National Technology Student Association Competition this year in the music production category and won third place.
Mack Stevens, an advisor in Advanced Technology Center, said “you can feel the long in the song.”
The June competition was held in Dallas with thousands of students in attendance, including seven from the Virginia Beach school division. More than 70 teams competed.
On stage with her third-place trophy, Gatling said she had mixed emotions: she was thrilled with the award, but missed her stepsister. Her hope is that the song promotes awareness about gun violence.
“I feel like the only way we can make a difference is if everybody comes together and speaks about it,” Gatling said. “We see these things every day, and I never would have thought it’d be someone so close to me.”
As she sang in the song, “How am I supposed to feel when time moves too fast, and it don’t feel real?”
Gatling is getting ready to start her junior year at Tallwood High School and plans to be a representative for the Advanced Technology Center and help guide students through the competition process.