Organizers of a new benefit record for war-torn Yugoslavia hope to pair the voices of 20,000 John and Jane Does with the likes of rapper Wyclef Jean, shock rocker Alice Cooper, soul singer Sam Moore and '70s teen idol David Cassidy.
From May 14 to May 20, a mobile recording studio will travel across the U.S., capturing the voices of average people singing "Message to the World." Those tracks will be paired with the work of Jean, Cooper and other celebrity participants for a single to benefit War Child, a charity that provides food, shelter, clothing and medicine to children in war-ravaged areas.
Cassidy's wife, Sue, conceived the project two weeks ago, after having seen footage of ethnic Albanians fleeing their homes in Kosovo. The sight particularly affected her because she'd lost relatives in the Holocaust of World War II. She wrote the song eight years ago with her husband, and it originally appeared on his album David Cassidy (1990).
"Can you imagine what it'd be like to be in bed at night, with your kids, and everybody's happy and comfortable -- and the next minute everything you have is gone?," she said.
The charity effort is one of several announced in recent days. As North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombs continue to fall, musicians are turning out on an almost daily basis to announce plans to help the region; they hope to stop Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's alleged genocide of ethnic Albanians.
On May 15, art rockers Sonic Youth -- whose most recent album, A Thousand Leaves (1998), includes "Hits of Sunshine" (RealAudio excerpt) -- will take part in a 24-hour Internet radio broadcast along with former Minutemen and fIREHOSE bassist Mike Watt and DJs and bands throughout the world.
NetAid is designed to draw attention to, and show solidarity with, Radio B92, an independent station the Yugoslav government shut down shortly before the NATO bombing campaign began March 24.
"It's hard to change people by bombing them," said Watt, who also will play a benefit concert for B92 Wednesday in Los Angeles. "It's easier to change them by their own internal movements. That's almost how the entire East Bloc fell without a World War III."
Other benefits announced in recent weeks include a charity edition of Pearl Jam's single "Last Kiss" (RealAudio excerpt), and a monthly concert series at New York's Knitting Factory that kicked off Sunday with a show headlined by Yoko Ono and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore.
Mobile recording for "Message to the World" will begin May 14 in New York's Central Park, where the John Lennon Songwriting Contest bus will be parked. The bus, equipped with recording facilities, will make several more stops throughout the country on its way to the Emerging Artists and Talent in Music conference -- which Sue Cassidy organizes -- May 20 in Las Vegas.
The song lyrics are posted at www.eat-m.com. Soon, a sound clip will be posted on the site as well.
The finished track will be available on the Internet to anyone who makes a contribution to War Child. The target date for its completion is June 1. Organizers are in talks with record labels to make the song available in stores.
"The more we keep adding voices, it's like a chain letter or a layer cake -- it can just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger," Sue Cassidy said. "This is a way that music can save lives."