by Tim Holder, Country Director – The Hunger Project UK
ON 9TH JANUARY 2011 WORLD HUNGER DAY WAS LAUNCHED, WITH ALMOST 2,500 PEOPLE GATHERED TOGETHER FOR A WONDERFUL EVENING OF SONG WITH DIONNE WARWICK & FRIENDS.
During this magical evening, it struck me (not for the first time) just how much people really enjoy singing together on these occasions. Throughout the evening, pretty much everyone joined in at some point with a song or two that they knew and loved. Their choices of song/s were varied, but all seemed to gravitate in their meaning towards the importance of loving each other, caring more for the world we live in and hoping for a better future for us all. It was really inspiring and proved that the power of singing together transcends so many barriers.
During the early planning stages of World Hunger Day 2012, I started thinking about creating an opportunity for more than 5,500 people to join together at the Royal Albert Hall to sing a new song for the sustainable end of hunger and poverty. I remembered sitting in the audience to watch Dionne Warwick perform back in 1985. She led a huge crowd in singing the USA For Africa Emergency Relief anthem We Are The World. The audience reaction and the positive energy were amazing, and it was a moment in my life that I will never forget.
World Hunger Day is all about celebrating the delivery of sustainable solutions to end hunger and poverty once and for all. Essentially, enabling vulnerable communities to create the food security and infrastructure that prevents them falling into crisis. A sustainable hand up to prevent the frequent need for an emergency handout.
I felt we needed a new song, with lyrics to highlight the objectives of The Hunger Project and the World Hunger Day initiative. A song that our supporters could believe in, join in with and pin their colours to in their own efforts to work towards the sustainable end of hunger and poverty. A song that could be launched on World Hunger Day, but that could eventually be sung by many more people beyond the walls of this incredible concert hall. Perhaps even ‘One Song’ with the potential to get the whole world singing together for a future free from hunger and poverty. The ‘One World, One Song’ project was born… but without the crucial elements. The song and somebody to sing it!
At crucial moments like this you look to the experts and people you trust. Fortunately, I knew that Dionne Warwick absolutely believed in the message of World Hunger Day and
the work of The Hunger Project. Her unquestionable talent to interpret the meaning of a song she believes in is like nobody else’s I know. There was no question in my mind that Dionne had to be the singer! The legendary Tony Hatch was heavily involved in orchestrating many of the songs for World Hunger Day 2011, and I knew without a doubt that Tony knows how to compose a memorable song! (Is there anyone here tonight who, when they hear the opening line “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go”… wouldn’t automatically chorus “DOWNTOWN”?).
I met with Tony and our World Hunger Day Producer Rod Natkiel (who has been writing both lyrics and music for the theatre all his career) and both agreed to work with me to create the song.
Momentum gathered from the early days of Rod and I working and constantly re-working the lyrics to Tony’s first musical “sketch”, Tony then adapting and refining the melody and vocal arrangements, and then the nail-biting but hugely exciting recording of the demo (in which the London Community Gospel Choir kindly played a key role, with the generous support of SARM studios) for Dionne to hear and hopefully approve – which she did with her usual warmth and enthusiasm.
And so on World Hunger Day 2012…
Dionne Warwick led the first ever public performance of One World, One Song as a duet with the wonderful Joe McElderry, joined by the London Community Gospel Choir and the massed young voices from Woodbridge School in Suffolk who joined together to form the World Hunger Day Choir along with the entire audience of the Royal Albert Hall.
ONE ROYAL ALBERT HALL singing ONE SONG for the sustainable end of hunger and poverty, the most incredible realisation of the first stage of this project.
Thank you for all the incredible messages of support and encouragement and now back to the drawing board as we begin planning to the take our song project forward in 2013 and hopefully we will achieve our dream to get ONE WORLD singing ONE SONG for the sustainable end of hunger and poverty.
A massive thank you to Tony Hatch, Rod Natkiel, Dionne Warwick, Joe McElderry, London Community Gospel Choir, Woodbridge School (see below) and of course to all the musicians and the audience for playing their part in One World, One Song
For all the photos of the performance of One World, One Song on World Hunger Day at the Royal Albert Hall please visit our Flickr Channel.