Your Weekly Listen for 11/23/ 14 is Africa Stop Ebola by Various Artists.
There is so much to say about this video, it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll begin with a bit of music video history. My generation watched the birth of music videos and we all remember when, in 1984, Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats pioneered the first charity song/video combo for famine relief in Africa with an all-celebrity cast singing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. The song was cowritten by Geldof and Midge Ure, and brought a host of British musical talent together to form the original “Band Aid”, including members of U2, The Police, Banarama, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Culture Club and others. The song went straight to number one and stayed there for weeks, raising millions of dollars. Not to be outdone, a group of American artists formed “USA For Africa” the following year, to record and release “We Are The World”. Written by Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson, the recording featured Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Daryl Hall, Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross and many others. It also went straight to number one and raised millions more. “We Are the World” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas” have both been re-recorded over the years to raise funds for other benevolent causes. In additions, dozens of “imitation” videos – songs written by other artists for charitable causes – have emerged. Bob Geldof deserves mountains of credit for getting this ball rolling. It’s entirely possible that without him, nothing like this ever would have happened.
Thirty years later, “Africa Stop Ebola” takes the trend to a whole new level. It features a host of African musicians I’ve never heard of before, but wish I had, and will keep an ear out for in future: Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangaré and Kandia Kouyaté, Mory Kante and Sia Tolno, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Barbara Kanam and Didier Awadi. What incredible voices and presences! But this video isn’t just out to raise funds, it also aims to educate and instruct. The lyrics, written by musicians in collaboration with an academic advisor, and at the request of the Disasters Emergency Committee, counsel the African public on disease containment and sanitation practices, in both French and indigenous languages. Song sales raise money for Doctors Without Borders.
Tragically, as of my writing this, the song is NOT AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD FROM ITUNES USA! I’ve written to iTunes to request that they remedy this (feel free to do the same). In the meantime, you can click here to donate to Doctors Without Borders . I just signed up for monthly donations and hope you’ll do the same if you haven’t already. Minimum donation is only $7.50!