The U.S. Space Force unveiled its official song on Tuesday, titled “Semper Supra” after the military branch’s motto, translated “always above.” The piece was created by two former service members, including the once-lead singer of the Air Force Academy’s band who was stationed in Colorado Springs.
James Teachenor, whom the Air Force’s website describes as the “visionary composer and driving force of the song’s creation,” said his lyrics pulled much of their inspiration from his time in Colorado.
“My time in service had been so woven together with the space operators,” Teachenor said. “I was able to be in, I guess you could say, the right place in the right time to learn.”
The writing process began shortly after the Space Force was established in 2019. Teachenor joined a team of space enthusiasts, airmen, singers, songwriters and an astronaut to discuss lyrics, mood and themes for the song, according to Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Tanya Downsworth. The goal was to reflect the branch’s mission and spark a feeling of pride among its members.
Several songs were pitched to the Space Force and presented to a focus group, which favored Teachenor’s lyrics and solidified its place in military history.
His approach balanced the cutting-edge nature of the Space Force with the more traditional sound of the five military branches’ songs that preceded it.
“You don’t wanna go with something that’s just in for a season,” Teachenor said. “I felt it was important to the service to make sure it paid homage to the long heritage that had come before and that it would also hopefully stand the test of time and fit in with those songs from the other branches.”
The next step was to find a composer who could arrange the song and add harmony.
Sean Nelson, the chief musician of the U.S. Coast Guard Band in Connecticut, was unanimously selected for the job out of 12 candidates. Nelson added more than 30 instrument parts.
“I went for it, and I, I did what I thought was gonna be the most exciting kind of sounds, and it seems to have worked,” Nelson said in a video shared by the Space Force. “It all comes together into something that I hope guardians around the world can be proud of.”
Nelson’s composition was “hands down” Teachenor’s favorite, he said. It made the song whole.
Teachenor’s music career began more than a decade before his military service. He moved to Nashville in 2001, where he found success writing and performing songs for his solo career and the careers of big-name artists such as Luke Bryan and Trace Adkins.
It wasn’t until 2015 that he moved to Colorado Springs, thanks to a well-timed Craiglist search for a vintage guitar.
An online ad popped up for a country singer in the U.S. Air Force Academy Band. Teachenor, who had always wanted to serve his country, had little doubt about his next steps.
“I was so sure of it that I put Colorado Springs weather on my phone on my weather app,” Teachenor said. He’d later find out the ad was only live on Craigslist for about six hours.
A successful audition landed him the lead singer role for the Air Force’s band, Wild Blue Country, which prompted a shift in his approach to music. The music industry was much more self-serving, he said, whereas the military emphasized service before self. That mentality followed.
“It’s no longer my song. It’s the Space Force’s song,” Teachenor said. “When folks wear their uniform, just like when I would wear the uniform and sing the Air Force Song, I want that same feeling to come about when they sing the Space Force song.”
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