The Producer and Art For Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey just signed a distribution deal with Monster Entertainment for the worldwide TV, Airline and DVD distribution of the 52 minute and 94 minute documentary versions of the Concert: “We are excited to announce the first of the viewings. The TV version will premiere on Irish televisions principal channel RTE on December 27th at 10.35pm. Monster have already received a large number of interested enquiries from TV stations and Airlines around the world. Electric Burma the concert documentary for Aung San Suu Kyi will be coming to a TV station near you in 2013!”
“It was a great honor perform ‘Toast To Freedom’ for Aung Saan Su Kyi,” said Carlton. “She stands for everything I believe in and fight and write for. She is not only a guiding light but a voice for every soul in this universe in the name of human rights. She is the spirit of ‘Toast To Freedom’.”
Osnabrueck & Berlin, December 2012
On Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012, two new versions of “Toast to Freedom,” a song that first appeared in May of 2012 in celebration of the human right’s organization’s 50th anniversary will be released. These new versions, each a unique interpretation of the original, continue to spread the organization’s human rights message.
More than forty students at the Institute for Music of the College at Osnabrueck, the symphony orchestra of Osnabrueck and thousands of local citizens have turned recordings of the Amnesty International anthem “Toast To Freedom” into a demonstration for freedom that’s truly one-off-a-kind! Moreover, they blazed unexpected musical trails with a dance version of the song dubbed as “Toast to Freedom The Freedom City Mix.” As Kurt Stolle, who studies music production at the college’s Institute for Music, explains, “together with professor Axel Wernecke, we set out to make the song more appealing to youth, also in order to familiarize this demographic with Amnesty and its human rights mission.” The project inspired by Osnabrueck musician and journalist Heinz Rebellius - was initially intended only to include students at the college. However, as Martin Behrens, director of the Pop studies program, explains, “it soon dawned on us to include not only the Osnabrueck symphony orchestra, but the entire city!” For this the annual May street festival delivered the perfect opportunity. The festival enabled a chorus of thousands of Osnabrueck residents to gather together in the main square of the town, which has already for centuries been known as the “Freedom City.”
Carl Carlton, composer and lyricist for the original version of the song, also expressed admiration for the “Freedom City Mix” of his song: “Many versions of this song are currently spreading the spirit of Amnesty International throughout the world, and this makes me indescribably happy as a songwriter. The fact that the entire city of Osnabrueck joined in creating this version is something very special. You can see the enthusiasm in the video: the stage performers and audience members practically melt together as one that’s how it should be!” City mayor Boris Pistorius noted that the song fits in perfectly with the history of Osnabrueck, whose town hall famously hosted the “Peace of Westphalia” in 1648. Treaties signed here put an end to the bloody Thirty Years War. Since then, Osnabrueck has been known as the “Freedom City (Die Friedensstadt).” Pistorius added, “I am convinced that ‘Toast to Freedom The Freedom City Mix’ embodies the power of freedom, and now many people around the world will have a chance to hear that.”
In May of this year, Amnesty International sponsored the worldwide release of “Toast to Freedom.” The anthem, written by Carl Carlton (Robert Palmer, Eric Burdon, Peter Maffay, and Udo Lindenberg) and Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Elvis Costello) became an important part of the human rights organization’s 50th anniversary celebration. Recorded with a multitude of international stars, including Ewan MacGregor, Kris Kristofferson, Donald Fagen, Rosanne Cash, the Gentleman, Jane Birkin, Carly Simon and many more, the song made its striking debut on the Jay Leno Show in the U.S.. Since then, “Toast to Freedom” has traveled the world, where many have recorded new versions of the song.
Coinciding with the release of “Toast to Freedom,” Amnesty also sponsored a competition encouraging musicians all over the world to enter their own musical interpretations and arrangements of this catchy tune. Of the many entries received, “Toast to Freedom The Berlin Mix” by the young Berlin artist Luca, was unanimously chosen by the judges as the winner. Inspired by Berlin’s own struggles against tyranny, Luca succeeded in creating a moving arrangement that captures a deep and intense yearning for freedom. Accompanied only by sister Maria on cello and by unadorned acoustic guitar and fragmentary bass, Luca’s “Toast to Freedom The Berlin Mix” delivers equal parts reality and rapture. Appropriately, the song’s video is set on both the rooftops and the streets of the city. Luca’s version was also a clear winner for songwriter Carlton: “The message of the original, which is about each individual’s right to freedom and the protection of human rights around the world, is in Lucas’ version transformed into a very personal one. In the original, we used many musicians to create a powerful and colorful sound, and to do justice to a multicultural understanding of rights and freedoms. By contrast, Lucas’ version is fragile, sensitive, but at the same time it delivers a very concrete message. This is a young voice coming forward to make the point that the fight for freedom and human rights takes place in our very own back yards every day.” Executive producer Jochen Wilms says, “Luca’s Berlin Mix adds a new and very personal dimension to the artistic initiative. She recorded it independently in Berlin and, together with Berlin cameraman Daniel Devecioglu and co-director Tom Richter, also produced her own video - a truly impressive and moving professional production!”
December 10, 2012 is the date on which Human Rights Day will be celebrated, as well as the day on which the Nobel Prize for Freedom will be awarded. Also at this time, Osnabrueck’s “Toast to Freedom The Freedom City Mix” and Luca’s “Toast to Freedom The Berlin Mix” will be made available through customary digital download portals on the web, with all proceeds going directly to Art for Amnesty. Additionally videos of both versions will appear on YouTube.
Amnesty International is concluding its 50th anniversary year celebrations with release of "Toast To Freedom", a new and exclusive commemorative song, performed by a spectacular selection of about 50 iconic artists. (Release-date: 3rd of May 2012).
Written by veteran guitarist/producers Carl Carlton (Robert Palmer, Eric Burdon, Keb Mo) and Larry Campbell (Levon Helm Band, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello), "Toast To Freedom" is the brainchild of longtime music industry executive, activist, and entrepreneur Jochen Wilms in collaboration with Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey.
"Toast To Freedom" was inspired by Carlton, a longtime supporter of Amnesty International, who suggested teaming up with Wilms on a commemorative project to mark the organization’s 50th anniversary.
The basic tracks were recorded at the legendary Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y, affectionately known as “the Barn,” where acclaimed artists like the Black Crowes and My Morning Jacket have made recordings and where Helm, a four-time Grammy winner, stages his intimate, multi-artist concert performances known as the “Midnight Ramble.”
...is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
||Blind Boys of Alabama
||Christine & The Queens
||Jerry “Wyzard” Seay
||Wayne P. Sheehy
Executive Producers: Bill Shipsey and Jochen Wilms
Produced by Bob Clearmountain
Co-Produced and Written by Carl Carlton & Larry Campbell
For more information:
Many thanks to all participants for all the material about the project!