The Bergamot's State of the Unity: bringing people together one song and car ride at a time

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The local husband-and-wife duo that make up the band, The Bergamot, has set their sights on bringing peace and unity to a very divided country at a time it's needed most. 

Jillian Speece and Nathaniel Paul Hoff formed their group in 2010, but their beginning was much earlier.The Bergamot by

Speece and Hoff met at Marian High School in 2003. They completed their first album, Smile, after graduating from college which was recorded in Hoff's apartment. 

Two months later, they ventured into their first American tour that kicked off in Cincinatti, Ohio, the first of many tours.

In 2016 the couple launched The Unity Collective USA, a 50-state, 264-date tour, with a mission of spreading a message of unity and peace through music, community and collaboration.

Every stop along the tour, they invited fans to sign their "message of unity" on the outside of their station wagon. They documented the entire thing.

"There would be cases where we'd show up to South Carolina, we'd jump on top of the car and people wouThe Bergamot while on The Unity Collective USA tour. by ld come, they would sign, they would interact, they would talk, they would ask questions, we would engage, and then we would have a performance that night whether it would be a house show, a venue show, it just kind of depended. But we were willing to go to places that, you know, a lot of musicians these days aren't willing to...we were out there trying to meet the country where they were at. Just trying to share our music and also bring them into the process of making the State of the Unity, which was learning that it's not a shared narrative of a future, but a narrative of a shared future in which we have to hold space and empathy for each other in our differences in order to go forward. Just like our car went forward, we have to go forward as a country," shared Hoff.

Speece and Hoff finished the tour back in their hometown of South Bend with a benefit concert at The Morris Performing Arts Center for Memorial Children's Hospital, auctioning off "The Unity Car" and donating 100% of the proceeds to the Music Therapy Department at Memorial Children's Hospital.

The pair would spend the next five years creating their documentary, State of the Unity.

"We believe that a small group of dedicated people can change the world. It's time for us to rise up in peace and unity, and really project that, project the vision we want of the world out there and just stand for goodness because we need kindness now more than ever," said Speece.The Bergamot by Variety

State of the Unity was made eligible for three Oscars: Best Song, Best Score, and Best Documentary. 

Speece and Hoff shared with us that they unfortunately did not make the "short list," but felt it was an incredible honor to be eligible and it was the greatest moment in their lives.

"We were up against Barbie and The Little Mermaid! Not even Taylor Swift and Beyonce made the cut in the documentary category. That's amazing," shared Speece.

The couple however, had some very special news to share for the first time, here on ABC57 News.

The Bergamot is creating another film, a sequel to State of the Unity in 2024.

To support The Bergamot on this journey, you can make tax-deductible donations to non-profit, Creative Visions.

You can also find other ways to support them here.

"We're going to be lifting up independent heroes who are literally bridging the divides. That's what we're really excited about, and I can't wait to make this next sequel," said Speece.

Find ways you can watch State of the Unity here.

To learn more about The Bergamot, visit their website.

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