'Strong and Proud'
Panama City native pens song about hurricane
FORT WALTON BEACH — Chris Leitz was born and raised in Panama City, so when Hurricane Michael gutted his hometown on Oct. 10, he took it personally.
As the grandson of local music store owners, Norman and Honey Leitz of Leitz Music Company, Chris Leitz turned to his roots to let out his emotions in the best way he knew how; through songwriting. Strumming the guitar and crooning in his bathroom back in Pensacola, Leitz let his emotions free in his song he titled, "Strong and Proud."
“Let me tell you right now, the city doesn’t lay down, the city doesn’t stay down, the city’s ‘bout to rebound," his song began. "You can knock the lights out, you can knock our trees down, but you can’t pull our roots out, 850 is strong and proud.”
Leitz said that two days after the hurricane he went to Panama City to help clear trees out of his uncle’s yard, and that was the moment that inspired his lyrics.
“I was chain-sawing some trees and specifically noticed a big oak tree that I played in as a kid,” he said. “The storm pulled the roots of that tree out of the ground but was thinking it couldn’t pull the roots of that town out of me, so I just wanted to right a song about that.”
"Down the road of the 850, you’ll hear the sound of the chainsaws go, working together to clear our roads, so we can get back and rebuild our home," Leitz' song continued.
Leitz said although he has written a few songs over the years, he still considers songwriting a hobby and not a career.
“I’m a hobbyist, not necessarily a performer,” he said. “The songs I write are just different things I am going through at the time. My hope is that one day, my son will get to look back at these videos and see the story of my life through the songs that I wrote.”
As for producing his song, Leitz said he hopes to record it with the help of his good friend and Bay County firefighter Nate Pennington. Once recorded, he said his plans are to donate proceeds of the song towards hurricane relief efforts.
“He’s recorded good stuff, I just think he’s got the better voice for it, I want him to sing it,” Leitz said of Pennington. “I’d rather just write for people if possible, that would be my dream as far a music goes.”
Since posting his bathroom recording on Facebook Wednesday, Leitz said he has gotten tons of positive feedback.
“Everyone’s been saying they are playing it over and over again,” he said. “Panama City is a very musically oriented place, so I think music is definitely going to be one of the things that helps us rebuild the town.”
"We thank the Lord for what we got, for some of us have lost a lot, rebuild the town we all love, rebuild the town that’s in our blood. Let me tell you right now the 850 is strong and proud," Ends Leitz' country-folk tune.
See Chris Leitz' song "Strong and Proud" on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvLlobolfZg or find his original video on his Facebook page by searching his name.