Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Compassion + Art = A Demurment Of Royalties

Those old enough to remember hunger projects like Live Aid, the 1980's We Are The World and Hear 'N Aid outreaches may appreciate the contrast of this. While no one can begrudge a philanthropic cause itself, the wheedling, transparent and egotistical divas that stand between a cure and its intended target can many times nullify the audience outright.

Such is why projects like CompassionArt are comparatively wonderful. In a world where the famous and talented spend more time being lauded for their charity work than actually doing charity work, it's refreshing to see a few household names (at least in Christendom) allowing the inertia of their notoriety propel the work and then get out of the way.

Delerious' frontman Martin Smith decided that he's had enough--and pushed his chair away from the tables of the fat and insular:

Always striving to be someone who practiced what he preached, Smith couldn’t help but wrestle with a troubling dichotomy in his quest to be a history maker. While he was nestled comfortably in the confines of five-star accommodations, many of those he was reaching out to, particularly in his international travels, were living in slums. If that wasn’t a shocking-enough reality check for the father of six, he also met an abundance of mothers and their young children, caught up in the horrifying, dangerous life of sex trade in India. And in Phnom Penh, a poverty-ravaged locale Smith visited in Cambodia, children were routinely digging through rubbish dumps just to find anything resembling food to make it through another day.

Unable to reconcile his comfortable life with that of “the least of these,” Smith knew something truly unique,something life-changing, needed to be done to start “creating freedom from poverty.” So Smith decided to giveback with what he’s been given—a platform, a microphone and a knack for writing songs that connect with the heart—and boldly asked 11 of his fellow musician friends to do the same.

Thus, CompassionArt was born. With a rather impressive roster--all agreeing to siphon any and all funds to the project itself--the only stipulation being that a percentage would also be irrigated to legitimate charities already championed by the artists themsleves:

Then in what Smith described as a “truly pinch-myself moment,” the artists, which included Paul Baloche, Steven Curtis Chapman, Delirious bandmate Stu G, Israel Houghton, Tim Hughes, Graham Kendrick, Andy Park, Matt Redman, Michael W. Smith and Darlene Zschech, began arriving in Scotland with a slew of great song ideas in tow. Later on sessions at the famed Abbey Road studio in London and the recording studios of Music City F 2 (Nashville) would feature fruitful collaborations with Chris Tomlin and a slew of genre-defining guest artists including Kirk Franklin, Amy Grant, Joel Houston, Leeland Mooring, Christy Nockels, tobyMac and CeCeWinans.

To top it off, they waxed the project at Abbey Road studios, which should reverberate with a few visually. The recap is here:

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