Meet the sweet singer behind Walmart's viral 'Lean on Me' video

Posted at 11:16 AM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 11:16:29-04

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- At a time when some people are looking for a glimmer of hope, an old song is bringing inspiration. "Lean On Me," a #1 song from 1972 by the late Bill Withers, is providing comfort to many feeling anxiety.

"If there's no other time where we need each other, we need each other right now," Vernon Futrell said.

A surprise phone call lead to Futrell, Dinwiddie Walmart Distribution Center employee, being featured singing on a national commercial.

The newest version of "Lean On Me" features Walmart employees from across the country.

"I feel totally awesome and most of all, I feel very blessed," Futrell said. "This is our moment people, to stand up and just come together, we all need each other right now."

The combination of song and commercial is designed to make an impact.

"I want to be able to uplift someone [who] maybe felt like they can't make it," the 32-year-old singer said. "You can make it, be encouraged, great things can happen in this situation, the coronavirus won't last always."

Futrell has worked at the Walmart distribution center on Route 460 for about two years.


The North Carolina native credits his family for helping him find his voice.

"My father has always encouraged me to do the right thing, make the best choices in life," he said.

One of those choices was to pursue singing. Futrell sang in high school choruses, church choirs, and in groups around his community.

He said he was glad to see the commercial is bringing smiles to faces around the nation.

"People really understood where we were coming from, it was just heart touch, heart feeling," he said.

Watch for CBS 6 Senior Reporter Wayne Covil's feature stories on CBS 6 News and If you know someone Wayne should profile, email him at

Find unique, award-winning stories every day on CBS 6 News.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.