Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Feature: Joshua Colley, Scott Evan Davis and IF THE WORLD ONLY KNEW Come Full Circle in New Recording

Altered by time and a changed world, two artists revisit a very personal work of art.

BWW Feature: Joshua Colley, Scott Evan Davis and IF THE WORLD ONLY KNEW Come Full Circle in New Recording Change is in the air. It has been for a while. People everywhere have been forced to grow in spiritual and emotional ways that might have taken a more organic timeline, were we all not thrown into lives of greater introspection and self-reflection. Into those lives, though, we were thrown and the artists of our society did the only thing they know how to do in times of emotional dishabille: they created. For Scott Evan Davis, the creative track went backward to a special time that yielded unforgettable growth, and in that journey backward, Davis and his friend Joshua Colley move forward.

Sometime in 2012, Mr. Davis was hired to write for a new musical being created out of The Spectrum School on Manhattan's Lower East Side. His collaborators for the piece were ten students of the school, all of them on the autism spectrum, all of them interested in telling the story of their lives and their struggles, of the bullies who dominated those struggles of being made to feel different, to feel inferior. One brainstorming session later, and Scott Evan Davis had written the song "If The World Only Knew" and hit a home run with all ten of his young colleagues.

"I remember coming into rehearsal the following week and playing it for them, and it was pretty magical because you could tell that it really hit home and that it was the song they needed to sing."

The musical POWERFUL DAY was the recipient of a lot of public attention, as well as the MTI Courage In Theatre Award but it was the attention of a special guest at a dress rehearsal that Davis remembers the most.

"The final dress rehearsal for the show, unexpectedly, Stephen Sondheim walked through the door and sat right in front of me, while I played all of my songs, and I remember him crying during If the World Only Knew. It was one of the best memories I have of my career. We went on to write letters back and forth, and I was able to tell him how much he meant to me."

When Powerful Day's incredible journey at The Spectrum School came to an end, Davis had a vague assumption that he was at end of the "If The World Only Knew" journey as well, and that the composition would land, like so many others for so many composers, in a trunk. However, in 2016 a second album began to brew in and around the mind of the maestro, and the decision to include the song was definite... IF he could find the right artist to bring the story to life, in just the right way. Davis knew the performer of the song would have to be a young person and he cast a casting net among his friends, asking for recommendations and suggestions, which is when he was directed to a YouTube video of a young actor playing Gavroche in Les Miserables. Done, decision made, parents consulted and entirely on board, Scott Evan Davis found himself teaching a special young man the song that would be recorded, performed for an uproariously appreciative Birdland audience, and eventually viewed over three hundred thousand times on YouTube.

The young man in that Les Mis video was Joshua Colley.

Joshua Colley began his Broadway career at the prodigious age of eleven and in short time found himself regarded as a respected member of a community rich with talent and a desire to nurture new talents, especially those of a younger age demographic. The collaborative efforts of Misters Colley and Davis produced a recording of "If The World Only Knew" that sparked widespread praise and inspired a host of new performances of the song.

It is now five years later and Joshua Colley has grown, physically, emotionally, mentally, and artistically, and Scott Evan Davis had an interesting idea to bring the artist Colley has become and the song they released into the world full circle. In a time when all artists were fighting so hard to stay creative, Davis noticed that Colley was, prolifically, using his social media to share music with his fans and followers, so the older of the two reached out to the younger about the possibility of revisiting the song from a fresh point of view informed by who they both are, by who they've become as artists and men. Working virtually, the twosome felt a strong inclination to go toward a thoughtful, meditative, acoustic arrangement, rather than David Snyder's original 16-piece orchestration, and Davis knew that the man for the job would be the highly valued Sean Harkness, who he invited to create and perform a quiet guitar arrangement for the new recording. With Harkness secured as the third musical collaborator on the re-recording, "If The World Only Knew" was on its' way to a post-pandemic treatment, a second life, and a new generation of fans

Supremely satisfied by the resulting recording, Davis went to work on an accompanying music video that would capture the spirit of the song, and the journey that the 2016 ASCAP Award recipient has been on, with countless covers, treatments from High Schools and choirs around the world, and performances by the like of Kelli O'Hara. With the help of editor Rob Marnell, Scott created a montage of artists famous and humble who have performed his composition, including the original Joshua Colley recording, eventually segueing into video footage of the man who is singing the song today. The labor of love has left the grateful composer and Tik Tok sensation with a new YouTube video that released yesterday (June 3rd) and a new single that will drop online today (June 4th), to say nothing of a rewarding reminder that, a few years back, he saw something exceptional in a young boy, a boy who has grown into an exceptional young man. Though neither Davis nor Colley has made mention of it, it is obvious that the possibility of future collaborations together is definitely in the wind.

They say that change, in life, is inevitable. These gentlemen and their new creation are proof positive that the best way to deal with change is to lean into it, go where it wants to go, and contribute to the process. Then, everyone shares in the satisfying result of growth.

The music video for "If The World Only Knew" is now live on YouTube and can be seen below. The new Joshua Colley recording of "If The World Only Knew" will be available on iTunes and other digital platforms beginning June 4th.

Visit the Scott Evan Davis website HERE

Visit the Joshua Colley Instagram page HERE


Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories

From This Author Stephen Mosher