Fifty stars have come together to celebrate Amnesty International's 50th anniversary by recording a song called Toast to Freedom.
Co-written by Carl Carlton in sessions that took place in the late Levon Helm's studio, the song features Ewan McGregor, Carly Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Marianne Faithful, Rosanne Cash, Jane Birkin and many more.
“We came up with the idea one day in November 2010, sitting in my garden outside Dublin,” Bill Shipsey – founder of the Art for Amnesty campaign – told the Observer newspaper. "Carl Carlton came to visit me and said he wanted to do something to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International and we came up with the idea of doing a song.
“Carl was good friends with Levon Helm, so he asked Levon if we could use his studio to record the song and he kindly agreed. Most of the song was recorded in Levon’s studio, then the various artists recorded their vocals in studios around the world.”
The song is set for release on Thursday, May 3.
“3 May is not strictly Amnesty’s 50th anniversary,” said Shipley. "But we chose that day to release the song because it’s World Press Freedom day, to celebrate the bravery of journalists who put their lives in danger daily.
“We chose to announce the project in the Observer because without the Observer there would be no Amnesty International.
“Amnesty International has always relied on the support of artists who are prepared to stand up for human rights, be it musicians or painters, and Toast to Freedom is a continuation of that tradition.”