Lennon and Other World Class Artists Spread Joy to Children in Japan

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World renown musicians produce charitable album that aims to bring hope to children with cancer in Japan and their families.

A group of internationally established musicians and producers joined forces to kick off the season of giving early last year by producing an album that aims to bring hope to children with cancer in Japan and their families. The CD is called 'Shine On! Songs Volume One' and has uplifting songs from a variety of genres.

They were brought together by the Tyler Foundation, a Japan based NPO that has established a number of innovative psycho-social support programs since 2006 throughout the country for children with cancer and their families. After a devastating earthquake and tsunami rocked north-eastern Japan in March 2011, the Foundation sought to use its experience in treating stress in children with cancer, to help children in these areas recover psychologically. All proceeds from the album's sales will go to fund the organization's programs.

One of the album artists is the Grammy nominated Julian Lennon, son of famed Beatles member John Lennon. Lennon is known for his charitable works, so when the Tyler Foundation approached him with the idea of donating a song for their album, he was all too willing to help. Lennon re-recorded his 1993 song 'Children of the World' which was also featured on the Japanese anime movie 'Coo' and can be heard here:

Julian Lennon had the following to say about his involvement with the album. "Japan has always been close to my heart. It's a wonderful country with wonderful people and I have been there many times over the past 20 - 30 years. I have also had chart success there many times! I have many friends in Japan; some are musicians and producers. Those personal connections are one of the reasons I'm involved in 'Shine On!', because Nick Wood, with whom I co-wrote the 'Children of the World' song is working on the 'Shine On! Songs Volume One' project. Of course, I was pleased to be able to help as anything any of us can do to help fight cancer is worthwhile."

Another of the artists, the British reggae vocalist Maxi Priest, says that he has visited Japan since the 80's and his website states that he has known people personally affected by the disaster. This year he offered his support to organizations dealing with the crisis such as the Red Cross and the Tyler Foundation. Priest contributed the track entitled 'African Sky' to the Foundation's album which he also performed in September at Billboard Live in Tokyo.

The song was written by him, Mark Ferris and Nick Wood. The album, which was released in fall 2011, is a collection of songs suitable for all ages and includes contributions by the same people who brought us the classic Disney songs in the 90's including those from the Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Academy award-winning lyricist Tim Rice and composer Alan Menken both donated the song 'Howling At the Moon' which was sung by Donna Burke and also featured on the sound track of the Deon Opperman and Sean Else musical 'Jock of the Bushveld'.

According to the Tyler Foundation, the album's proceeds will go to not only supporting children with cancer in Japan and their families, but also the Tyler Foundation's work supporting children in the areas of the Tohoku region affected by the March earthquake and tsunami.

Other artists on the album include American artists such as the Nashville folk rock band Tin Cup Gypsy, singer Mark Ballas (also dancer on the ABC hit show 'Dancing With the Stars'), and Wendy Parr (associated with the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack). Gordon Goodwin, who did arrangements for several tracks that included songs performed by his group 'Big Phat Band'; newcomer and Disney's Next Big Thing winner, Amber Lily; plus, the three-time Grammy Nominee for "Best Jazz Vocal Album", Tierney Sutton.

"I got involved with the project because two of the Producers on my HurtLoveBox CD were very involved." said Mark Ballas, this year's judge for the Miss America pageant, as he talked about how he decided to sing a tune for charity. "It started when Michael Becker invited Rob Chiarelli to be a part of the Tyler Foundation project and Rob was excited to co-produce 3 songs with him. Rob then ask me to get involved, and I thought the project was important to support."

The international artists also include Japan-based vocalists, Rie fu and Donna Burke (theme song vocalist for both the 'Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker' and 'Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles' soundtracks). Popular Jazz singer, Monday Michiru, was born in Japan and has led an active international career.

Tracks on the CD were recorded at Capital Studios in LA, OMNIsound Studios in Nashville, Flux Studios in New York, Livingstone Brown's Studio in London. Mixing and further production work was undertaken at Syn Studios in Tokyo.

Those behind the album include award winning producers such as Dan Savant, Nick Wood, Michael Becker, Rob Chiarelli, and also the three time Emmy winner, Gordon Goodwin. Rob, a producer responsible for award-winning tracks from Will Smith and other artists talked about his involvement.

"Michael and I have both spent a lot of time in Japan and we have fallen in love with the culture and the people. And we all have friends who were victims of the devastating earthquake. Beyond that, cancer claimed the life of my father and another close friend is fighting his own battle with the disease, so it definitely hits close to home. We all hope that our contributions will be helpful in a meaningful way to the Tyler Foundation and those who are served by their great work."

According to local news in Japan, children in the Sakari Elementary School and surrounding areas were seriously affected by the disaster earlier last year. Sony Music artist and singer on the album, Rie fu, visited the region in November with the Tyler Foundation's Smile Ambassador (reference) to offer support and uplift the children in distress. Rie fu collaborated with the school to create a song created for the album entitled 'Who I want to be', which ranked #71 on Japan's top 100 iTunes chart since its release. Children from the school were included on the track and others were on the music video recently released which show the areas devastated.
Check it out:

Other music videos for the album are planned to be released periodically over the next few months according to the Tyler Foundation. In the meantime, they have released interviews with Dan Savant, Amber Lily, and the band Tin Cup Gypsy on their official YouTube channel.

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