Every branch of the armed forces has an official song, from “The Army Goes Rolling Along” to “The Marines' Hymn.” Each song is part of the services’ foundation and represents its values, traditions and culture.
The U.S. Space Force, the newest military branch established in 2019, has officially adopted its own song. The Space Force song, titled “Semper Supra” was unveiled during the 2022 Air & Space Forces Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Sept. 20, 2022.
“Semper Supra” was named after the USSF motto, which is Latin for “Always Above.” It was created to capture the esprit de corps of both current and future Guardians, and intends to bring together service members by giving them a sense of pride. When it was released, the Space Force song was received, as expected, with mixed reviews.
Some believed that the Space Force song was too old fashioned. It was typical of military branch songs, overly traditional as if it was written 100 years ago. Moreover, some believed the Space Force song, because it sounded like a composition written decades ago, did not fit the modern and new futuristic armed force.
Others who were fans of the Space Force song liked the fact that it was a traditional-sounding song that fit in with its sister services’ songs. They liked the Space Force song for what it was and more importantly for the lyrics and what they represent.
A former service member and current member of the Coast Guard collaborated to create the Space Force song, a process that took years of research and revisions to make sure the Space Force song was ready for release.
“The song was a long work in progress because I wanted it to encompass all the capabilities that the Space Force offers and its vision,” said James Teachenor, a singer/songwriter who created the lyrics and melody; was the visionary composer and driving force of the song’s creation.
Teachenor, a prior member of the U.S. Air Force band at the Air Force Academy, worked with Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond to begin the songwriting process for the Space Force song when the Space Force was formed in 2019.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a Space Force song that will be part of our culture and heritage for years to come,” Raymond said. “Our traditions are part of the fabric that weave us all together as we execute our missions side-by-side; I will be proud to sing ‘Semper Supra’ alongside my fellow Guardians.”
After creating a foundation for the Space Force song, Teachenor’s project was sent to various military bands that could create a musical arrangement to give finishing touches and complete the song’s sound; 12 musical submissions of the song were under review. Teachenor then collaborated with chief musician Sean Nelson, U.S. Coast Guard Band trombonist and staff arranger.
“I received the melody and words from James, and he wanted me to help add the harmony and to orchestrate it,” said Nelson. “At first, it started with singing and the piano. I became familiar with the other branches’ songs, but I wanted this one to have its own modern spin to reflect what the Space Force is - modern, new and very advanced.”
Once Nelson added more than 30 instrument parts, the song’s arrangement was played and recorded by the USCG band, then submitted to the Space Force for review. After many months of development, revisions and variations in coordination with the USCG band, the Space Force picked the final version of
“Semper Supra,” as the Space Force song to capture what it means to be a Guardian.
Teachenor and Nelson gifted the Space Force song “Semper Supra” to the Department of the Air Force, along with the copyright in its lyrics and music. The Department of the Air Force is the exclusive owner of the copyright in and to “Semper Supra.”
The lyrics to the Space Force song are:
We're the mighty watchful eye,
Guardians beyond the blue,
The invisible front line,
Warfighters brave and true.
Boldly reaching into space,
There's no limit to our sky.
Standing guard both night and day,
We're the Space Force from on high.
Teachenor is a multi-platinum singer/songwriter and producer who has had songs recorded by many mainstream country music artists, such as, Luke Bryan, Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry, Blaine Larsen, Collin Raye, Trisha Yearwood, Craig Campbell, Joey + Rory, Kevin Denney, Gwen Sebastian, Gretchen Wilson, and Vince Gill. As an artist, Jamie has contributed to a number of top 10 albums, including vocals for Blake Shelton’s “The Dreamer,” and “Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton,” and in 2010, Jamie released the single, “Never Gonna Stand for This,” as Teachenor Clark.
Teachenor has performed for millions on ABC’s Good Morning America, the CBS Early Show, Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends, multiple times at the Grand Ole Opry, CMT, GAC, the Miss Teen America Pageant, RFD TV, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and many of the major radio stations all around the world. Teachenor has been featured in Billboard Magazine, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, USA Today, Country Weekly, MTV.com, CMT.com, VH1.com; and his songs have been in multiple movies and books.
(EDITOR’s NOTE: This post was written with information gleaned from Space Force and Air Force press releases, and the Coast Guard website.)
Nelson plays trombone in the U.S. Coast Guard Band and the U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band. In addition, he is staff arranger for the concert band and music director and lead trombonist for the Guardians Big Band.
As an arranger and composer, Nelson won the National Band Association Young Composers Jazz Composition Contest and is a two-time winner of Downbeat Magazine’s Student Jazz Arranging Contest. He currently works as the arranger for Sam Houston State University's Bearkat Marching Band, writing new shows each season.
A native of Dallas, Texas, Nelson received a Bachelor of Music degree from Sam Houston State University, studying trombone with Henry Howey, and a Master of Music degree from the University of North Texas, studying trombone with Tony Baker and jazz arranging with Paris Rutherford and Rich DeRosa. While at North Texas, he was trombonist and composer for the world renowned One O’Clock Lab Band and sang with the Jazz Singers I. His trombone quartet won the International Trombone Association Quartet Contest, and he was honorable mention in the ITA's Frank Smith Solo Competition.