Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic
Elaine Aradillas
December 11, 2017 09:00 AM

Sheryl Crow thought something was going to change after 26 children and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School lost their lives nearly five years ago in Newtown, Connecticut.

Two months ago, on Oct. 1, Crow watched the news along with the rest of the country as the details surrounding the deaths of 58 people at the Route 91 Harvest Music festival in Las Vegas began to unfold.

“I have the same experience everyone does — complete and total devastation and disillusionment,” Crow tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview about the release of her new song, “The Dreaming Kind.”

Crow, a nine-time Grammy winner, is working in conjunction with Sandy Hook Promise — a nonprofit group co-founded by Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the Sandy Hook Tragedy. “The work of Sandy Hook Promise focuses on preventing gun violence before it starts,” he said in a statement.

The singer says her new track came together when she decided to work with Sandy Hook Promise to raise awareness and push forward gun regulation in regard to mental stability. “It seemed to give purpose to my writing,” Crow reveals.

After the tragedy nearly five years ago — the anniversary is on Thursday — Crow believes people live in fear of talking about the controversial topic of gun control. She urges everyone to step away from social media and have meaningful discussions about ways to prevent future tragedies.

“When Sandy Hook happened, we knew it was a life-changing moment where we were going to address the idea that not everyone should be approved to own a gun, especially military-style weaponry and yet, nothing happened,” she says. “At some point, the alarm clock has to go off and we have to wake up.”

Despite the heated topic, creating the song became a family affair. Crow’s niece, Ava Crow, 12, appears on the song and innocently asks, “Could you imagine it/if love was blind/If on this earth everybody was kind.”

RELATED VIDEO: Sandy Hook Dad Reflects on Meeting With Shooter’s Father

“She’s still very innocent and very wide-eyed. Her voice is pure and very touching,” Crow says of her niece, who also appears in the video, which is available as a name-your-price download at sherylcrow.bandcamp.com. “She came over, she sang it four times and it was perfect.”

Her nephews Bradley and Chase Crow, ages 19 and 17 respectively, also joined and sang on the chorus.

She says she will have to have a difficult conversation with her own children — Levi, 7, and Wyatt, 10 — and explain why she wrote the song.

“I’m going to have to explain to them that at school, before this, it was place you went that was safe,” she says, adding. “I’m sure it will be a conversation that we will continue to have for as long as this is happening.”

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