The night before receiving her second COVID-19 vaccination, Sara Botkin, of North Strabane Township, was singing while washing the dishes.
Replacing the word, “Reunited,” in the 1978 Peaches & Herb hit, she sang, “Vaccinated, and it feels so good,” adding her own pandemic-related lyrics as she went.
“I started to sing the song, and the lyrics just kept coming to me,” she said in an interview.
It was clever parody about what life was like amid a global pandemic. It was just going to be something fun to share on Facebook, but after getting her friend who also happens to be a Broadway star to help sing it, their music video aired on “Good Morning America” on June 8.
Botkin and Sydney James Harcourt both attended Interlochen Center for the Arts high school in Michigan. Both studied music and pursued singing careers in New York. After surviving the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Botkin decided to move back to the Pittsburgh region to pursue another career. Harcourt made it big on Broadway as one of the original cast members of the musical, “Hamilton.”
“He’s been such a supportive friend to me over the years,” Botkin said.
She called him and sang her vaccination parody song to him. He loved it, and within a week they each had recorded their parts. They decided to do a music video to go with the song, and recruited film students from Point Park University to help.
They got permission to record some scenes in grocery stores and clinics. Botkin is seen in the four-minute video portraying “pandemic life,” which includes an abundance of wine, snacks and cleaning products.
“The whole song, every lyric is what I lived,” she said.
After the video was completed, Harcourt’s publicist at Luna Entertainment pitched it to “Good Morning America” as an exclusive release. Clips from the video were shown during the show’s afternoon segment Tuesday.
Botkin’s family, including her husband, Ovi Manciu, and their children had a watch party at her Peters Township office, Botkin Family Wealth Management.
Botkin said they dedicated the video to the “scientists and health-care workers who worked so hard to bring this pandemic to an end.” The video was also made “in loving memory” of Botkin’s mother-in-law, Mariana Manciu, who died from COVID-19 in October.
“It was a bad year for us,” Botkin said. “My mom is a lung cancer survivor, and we lost my mother-in-law to COVID in the fall.”
The family stayed in their home much of last year, their sons schooled at home and she checked constantly on the progress of a vaccine. Finally, when one was available, Botkin started scheduling appointments for her family and neighbors who qualified.
“I respect different people’s decisions on the vaccine,” Botkin said. “This song is just a positive message on how great it feels to be vaccinated. We wanted it to be a celebration song, not political at all.”
After a year of lockdown, Botkin decided to start taking weekly voice lessons again to get back into singing. She’s currently working on recording a Christmas album.
“Doing this music video over the last few months has been balm for my soul,” she said.