This story began on the morning of the 24th of June 2016.
Moved by the divisive impact of the EU referendum campaign in the UK and divisive rhetoric across the world, one social media post called upon people to respond to division by demonstrating the power of music to bring communities together in positive collaboration. The response was phenomenal, and instantly international. Thousands of people, from pop and classical singers, musical theatre, folk and opera stars to chamber choirs and community choirs came forward, as well as orchestral players, concert soloists, jazz musicians and many more worldwide.
How best to channel the offerings of so many people? That Saturday Michael wrote the song Human Kind. Featuring quotations from John Donne (‘No man’s an island’) and Jo Cox (‘More in common’), the song was conceived to be adaptable for a wide range of musical genres and abilities. It was also designed so that it could be recorded across the world, creating an international music video bringing people together from all communities, cultures, nations and musical genres. Together, we could send a powerful and inspiring message to the world, countering divisive rhetoric with positive collaboration across physical, racial and musical borders.
The main ingredient was recorded at the end of a vast collaborative concert held at the Union Chapel in London on Tuesday 2nd August 2016. With a huge line-up of solo artists, massed choral and orchestral forces, it was a truly extraordinary evening of music spanning genres and crossing borders. Artists included international stars from a huge variety of backgrounds: Cassidy Janson, star of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly, guitarist Mark Lettieri of multiple Grammy winners Snarky Puppy, pop chart-topper singer Sarah Jane Morris and Bengali folk star Saida Tani. The conductor was James Burton with the orchestra led by Britten Sinfonia principal Thomas Gould, appearing also in trio with Bernhard Schimpelsberger and Andrew McCormack. Journalist, author and environmentalist George Monbiot premiered his collaboration with folk singer Ewan McClennan. The concert was hosted by legendary journalist and broadcaster Robin Lustig, former anchor of BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight and an expert in international diplomacy with a deep belief in the unique power of music to transform lives (read his review of the evening here). Videos of that concert can be seen on the Common and Kind YouTube Channel.
Since then, choirs and soloists from across the world have sent in their recordings of Human Kind. They include Pihcintu, a choir combining refugees from Cambodia, China, Congo, El Salvador, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Vietnam, West Indies, and Zambia, and amazing choirs from Vietnam (the extraordinary Vietnam Miracle Choir), Northern Ireland, Scotland, India, Malaysia, the UK and USA. The single also features guest soloists Jonathan Hoard, Saida Tani, Sarah Connolly and nine members of Snarky Puppy.
We are delighted to have secured distribution from Universal Music Operations, national radio PR from Matchbox Music Media and TV promotion from Stay Tuned Media. Human Kind will be released online on Friday the 16th of June 2017 on all major online vendors and streaming platforms. Proceeds of online sales will be donated to Musicians without Borders, Music Action International and Amnesty International.
What is it for? What will my donation do?
- Rhetoric and emotion effect change in this world. We live at a time in history where negative rhetoric is guiding not just voting choices but human behaviour at all levels. We very simply need powerful, inspiring rhetoric to spread positive models and powerful examples of communities, cultures and countries working successfully together.
- All proceeds from this single will be donated to three charities who do incredible work. Musicians without Borders work across the world with victims of war, Music Action International bring refugees together with schools and communities in the UK, and Amnesty International continue their world-renowned work to protect human rights.
- Promote original creative work. The lyrics, music arrangements for eight choirs, band and string orchestra are by Michael Solomon Williams. The horn section parts are all by Raphael Clarkson, and strings parts further arranged by Tom Pigott-Smith.
- Promote collaboration between diverse musical disciplines. The range involved here is quite exceptional, bringing together stars of the musical theatre stage (Cassidy Janson), Bangladeshi pop world (Saida Tani), soul (Jonathan Hoard), jazz (nine members of Snarky Puppy including a feature for Mark Lettieri), opera (Sarah Connolly) and choral worlds. Added to that are international folk songs interweaved from groups such as the Young KL Singers of Kuala Lumpur.
How Much Is Needed?
We need £8,000 to pay for distribution and radio PR (Universal Music Operations & Matchbox - £2300) and TV PR (Stay Tuned Media - £3700), with classical PR support from Nicky Thomas Media (£2000).
Couldn't you just post it on Youtube?
Self-release is an extremely risky approach. Considering the context, participants and significance of this song, professional distribution and promotion is vitally important in order to ensure that the song and the whole project is given the best possible chance of achieving a wide national and international audience. Also, by donating, YOU become a part of this process. The entire thing is a product of the generosity and creativity of thousands across the world who had never previously met or collaborated. Let's continue that process by sharing in the successful release of the song.
Who has paid for it all so far?
So far over £12,000 of personal funds (an inheritance/once potential nest egg...) has been spent on recording and production. Very generous support 'in kind' has come from the Emmy award-winning audio engineer Dan Weinberg, and all of the participating artists. It would be very good to be able to write off substantial debts and reimburse the sound engineer for all his work. If we exceed this target, stretch funding would cover this (account sheets available upon request).
The Song. What will the public see and hear?
The video above is a preview version of the song itself. A radio edit (three minute-version) will also be distributed to major radio stations and TV channels.
We have fantastic PR behind us, and hope that you can be a part of this exceptional international community, bringing inspiration, communication and hope to the world at a time when it is so profoundly needed. Thank you for your donation! Any questions you may have, feel free to email email@example.com.