Historic All-Star Recording To Benefit Haiti Earthquake Victims;
Kirk Franklin’s “Are You Listening: A Love Song for Haiti”
One Hour Special Presentation
World Premieres Friday, Jan. 22 at 7:00 pm ET on GMC
(Jan. 21, 2010) By Lisa collins, senior music editor, GospelMusicChannel.com -- The directive – in the form of emails, text messages and word of mouth – was urgent: to spread the word about a live recording of the gospel music industry's biggest stars in response to the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the already poverty-stricken nation of Haiti, impacting an estimated three million people with a death toll some say could top 100,000.
It came from Kirk Franklin, who was moved to act while watching the horrific images broadcast on CNN Wednesday night January 13 from his hotel in Nashville. The next night he took the stage of an already planned prayer service of gospel industry professionals and insiders to make an impassioned personal plea to his fellow artists: to take part in the recording of “Are You Listening: A Love Song for Haiti” to raise funds to help those in Haiti so desperately in need.
"We see these people as God's children," Franklin said. "We want to do our part and I just want people to know that the gospel community can respond to a powerful natural disaster."
The response was overwhelming for what Franklin had dubbed as the gospel community's answer to "We Are the World," with more than 150 participants swiftly joining the cause. BeBe & CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams, Marvin Sapp, Natalie Grant, Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary, Shirley Caesar, Jeremy Camp, Marvin Winans, J. Moss, Smokie Norful, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Karen Clark-Sheard, Kiki Sheard, Donald Lawrence, Bishop Paul Morton, Papa San, Micah Stampley and James Fortune would participate in an important endeavor in addition to the one that brought them to Music City, the 2010 taping of the 25th Annual Stellar Awards.
Franklin contacted Don Jackson, executive producer of The Stellar Awards, to request that the Gospel Music Channel (http://www.gospelmusicchannel.com) television network, which is premiering The Stellar Awards on Feb. 28, send cameras and crews to capture the historic recording event. GMC did so and is producing the official music video for “Are You Listening: A Love Song for Haiti” which will world premiere in a one hour special presentation on GMC Friday, Jan. 22 at 7:00 p.m. (ET), immediately before GMC’s airing of the global “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon (8:00 p.m.). The special will be hosted by Lisa Kimmey-Winans and will feature exclusive interview footage with Kirk Franklin from the recording session interspersed throughout multiple runs of the music video. GMC will encore the special on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 6:00 p.m. (ET). The music video will then go into heavy rotation in all GMC music video blocks. GMC will also produce and premiere an exclusive “A Love Song for Haiti: The Making of ‘Are You Listening’” behind-the-scenes special in February.
"It's a great song," said Verity Records president Jazzy Jordan, whose label will release the song both digitally and commercially. "This is going to be a very strong tribute effort. Kirk has really laid himself out here and the industry has responded. Everyone is donating their time and their contributions, from the artists to the engineers and the studio."
Frankin said, "It's a song God gave me after 9-11 but by the time I finished it, the timing had passed and I was just never able to marry it to anything. But as I watched what was going on in Haiti, the Lord brought it to my attention that it would be perfect. We're trying to record it as quickly as we can so that we can have it to radio within a week and a half, with all of the proceeds going to the people of Haiti."
The effort couldn't be any more personal for Central South Director/Gospo Centric Records co-founder Claude Lataillade, who was born in Port-au-Prince and still has relatives there. "It's really sad. It's the worst scenario for Haiti. They don't have the right infrastructure to handle the kind of devastation that has befallen Port-au-Prince. What I'm hoping is with all this world outpouring, Haiti can get a fresh start out of the ashes."
For Bishop Paul Morton, it brought back memories of Katrina, which devastated his home and church in New Orleans in 2005. "Every day I think about Katrina and because of what we've gone through in New Orleans, I'm more sensitive to the people of Haiti and to the fact that people reached out to us," Morton said. "It's so devastating and I think Kirk's right for providing us the opportunity to come together and give back, particularly of our talents."
Mary Mary's Tina Campbell was in awe when she entered the studio and saw just how many artists had come together to help. "There's nobody getting paid and it's just awesome to see so many people committed to helping. I'm listening to the song and seeing all of these artists and saying, Kirk is such a visionary. The lyrics to this song are so necessary and I’m so proud to be part of it. Adds sister Erica Campbell, "People of faith should be at the forefront of this. This song backs what we stand for and I believe it will help in the healing for victims of this tragedy."
Like Mary Mary, CeCe Winans believes it's only fitting that gospel artists lead the way. "That's what gospel is about..." Winans said, "Loving people and being the extended hands of God."
Even as the focus is on the festive season, plans are almost complete for the staging of the Carib Soca Monarch 2010 Mashramani competition.
A source from within the Carib Beer Soca Monarch planning committee, told this publication that Soca Monarch contenders need to start preparing their songs to submit for a possible chance at the first prize purse.
"We are focussed on Christmas right now but our plans are almost complete for the 2010 competition and from what I know things will be bigger and better," the source said.
With Christmas day completed the plans should be unveiled at a launching ceremony in a few days the source informed. When this publication contacted Nigel Worrell the event coordinator he was tight lipped but said the event is definitely happening in 2010 in a big way.
Shellon Garraway (Shelly G) formerly known as Shelly Belly, is the reigning soca monarch and word from her camp is that she has no plans to let go of the crown and will be defending it fiercely. She copped the title last year over Melissa 'Vanilla' Roberts with her spicy soca hit titled 'Work it.' Vanilla eventually copped the Road March title with her "Ah coming hot for the carnival."
According to reports from the Kross Kolor 'Head Hunters' camp three times soca monarch Adrian Dutchin is in the valley of decision, contemplating a possible return to the competition, while Vanilla and B52 (Lil Man) as well as Berbician 'Bones man' plan to stake their claim on the crown in February, 2010.