Less than a week after its debut, Angel City has already racked up another first after debuting as the world’s first majority women-founded, owned and operated professional soccer team.
The groundbreaking franchise now holds ownership of the first original anthem for a U.S. women’s professional sports team.
Released March 24, “Running with Angels” comes from the genius of five-time Grammy winner Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes) and L.A.-based artist Tia P. The celebratory song is an ode to Angel City’s trailblazing spirit.
The song’s release also officially kicks off First Strides, Johnnie Walker’s newly-launched, long-term initiative that celebrates, inspires and enables progressive people and organizations to move culture forward for all.
“Progress is the core of Johnnie Walker’s DNA, which is why we are committed to celebrating and propelling the people and organizations taking bold steps to move culture forward,” said Sophie Kelly, senior vice president of whiskies at Diageo North America. “Our partners Angel City and Blacktag are doing just that— breaking the mold and creating more equity— and we are proud to continue partnering with them and others to fund and toast First Strides.”
Along with the anthem, Johnnie Walker is launching a series of First Stride grants, in addition to their continual dedication of funding to communities where inequality exists. Anyone 21 and over can apply.
Ahead of the release of “Running with Angels,” we spoke with Brittany Howard all about the song and what it’s like to be part of such a big moment in sports history.
Angel City Football Club is the Los Angeles area’s first women’s professional soccer team in over 10 years and is the first majority women-founded, owned and operated pro-sports team. How does it feel to be part of such a big moment for women’s sports?
For me, this is more than a song— this is music to create a movement for women's equality and for women’s sports. I feel honored to come together with Johnnie Walker and Angel City FC to create this powerful anthem. Last year, when they both approached me, I knew I wanted to get involved somehow and the anthem creative process has been the perfect way to do so. I truly hope that the song inspires other female athletes and women in general to keep walking together towards a more equitable future. Ownership has been something I've been thinking a lot about throughout this entire process and it’s important we continue lifting women up, especially those who are blazing trails in sports.
You and Tia P. collaborated on the team’s official hype anthem, “Running with Angels.” Can you tell us more about the song’s development and why it captures the spirit of Angel City?
The Johnnie Walker First Strides Initiative is all about celebrating boundary-breaking achievements, which is exactly what Angel City FC is doing with its trailblazing spirit. As such, I knew I wanted to create a celebratory song with strong lyrics that make you feel elevated. The early inspiration for the music for me was HBCUs. When I was in marching band, and would watch performance videos, and I always thought, "I want to be in a marching band like that." I just knew that's what this anthem needed to be because it had the energy and power that’s representative of this team.
What was it like collaborating with Tia P.?
It’s been absolutely incredible. She’s a very talented musician who has great instinct and adds her own powerful touch to the song. We shared similar visions for this project, and along with Mike Elizondo, we created an anthem that we hope inspires movements.
“Running with the Angels” serves as a celebratory anthem as the team is about to take the field for their first season. How do you hope the team and fans alike feel as the track blasts through speakers at the first game?
I hope the song makes the team and audience get on their feet and dance and I hope it in some way it can inspire this incredible team to win some games!
Any other must-know details about the making of this song?
I would like to give a shoutout to Johnnie Walker, who (alongside ACFC) asked me to write this anthem. "Running with the Angels" kicked off their First Strides initiative - a long-term commitment that aims to celebrate, inspire and enable women, Black content creators and progressive people/organizations pushing culture forward by offering grants and education.
Anyone 21+ can apply for a First Stride grant but the brand will continue to dedicate funding to communities where inequality exists. Through a partnership with go-to crowdfunding marketplace IFundWomen, Johnnie Walker will continue to support women entrepreneurs and fuel women-owned businesses. The brand is also introducing a grants and mentorship program with first-of-its-kind streaming service Blacktag, who is changing the model for pay equity among Black creators.
This interview has been edited. “Running with the Angels” is now available on Spotify.
Photography by: Courtesy Diageo