Hawkeye Family Goes Viral

The Hawkeye family goes viral.

The Gibson family of Iowa City, Iowa, is making the best of the uncertain situation surrounding the coronavirus by making music together. The family members found local fame after a CBS news site shared a video of their performance of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story,” leading to local television interviews.

The Gibsons weren’t looking for fame or recognition when they started performing music together; they were just trying to spread some Iowa pride. Aaron Gibson, father of four, is an alumnus of the University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band. When the alumni organization put out a call for former band members to perform the fight song, Gibson decided to get his whole family involved. “I thought, we have half a band in our family practically,” Gibson says.

Gibson’s children all play different instruments: high school senior Emma plays trumpet, freshman Kaylee plays tuba, 7th-grade student Thomas plays percussion, and 4th-grade student A.J. plays the piano, drums, and egg shaker. Gibson himself plays trombone. Mom Kari filmed the performance. “We had all the words to the fight song memorized already,” Gibson says. “It was an easy sell.”

The Gibsons got decked out in Iowa Hawkeye gear to record their fight song performance and posted it on Facebook. After the video received more than 900 shares, the family decided to perform “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” chosen for its friendly, uplifting message, which caused CBS to take notice.

Staying at home together playing music isn’t a chore for the Gibsons. They enjoy the rehearsal and performance process. “It was a fun family bonding experience to play music together,” Emma Gibson says.

They see music as a way to spread joy during the current pandemic and quarantine procedures. “Music is something that makes people happy, so doing it is a good idea right now,” Kaylee Gibson says.

Aaron Gibson agrees: “We’ve gotten so many positive comments on our social media, saying we made [people] smile or made their day,” he says. “Making people happy makes us feel good.”

Photo courtesy of Ken Gibson.

About the author

Savy Leiser

Savy Leiser is a Chicago-based author, journalist, and freelance editor. In addition to writing for Halftime Magazine, she is the author of the “Furever Home Friends” children’s book series. Savy graduated in 2015 from Northwestern University, where she was a member of the Wildcat Marching Band. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University.