HEART to contribute to “Rock Against Trafficking”
Heart will be covering The Police track: “Wrapped Around My Finger”
The founder of the all-star Rock Against Trafficking (R.A.T.) campaign is eyeballing next year’s Grammy Week for the organization’s public launch, with a variety of activities that include the release of an album featuring Police and Sting covers, a party and perhaps a performance at the awards ceremony.
“The idea is to do something like a big Rock Against Trafficking party around Grammy Week,” Gary Miller, the record producer and musician who started the organization to raise awareness of the global slave trade, tells Billboard. “What I would love to do is perform at the Grammys, maybe a medley of a couple of songs and maybe have the Police come on as well. We’re going to do everything we possibly can to approach the Grammys and say, ‘Look, if I can get all the acts together, can we do something?’ ”
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Miller — A British native whose credits include David Bowie, Lionel Richie, George Michael, Donna Summer, Kylie Minogue, Charlotte Church and more — certainly has a formidable group of artists committed to the album project. Already recorded are tracks by Slash and Fergie (“So Lonely”), Journey’s Neal Schon and Arnel Pineda (“Synchronicity 2”), Heart (“Wrapped Around My Finger”), Julian Lennon (“If I Ever Lose My Faith”), Glenn Hughes (“Roxanne”), American Idol alumnus David Cook (“Message in a Bottle”), En Vogue (“Brand New Day”), Steve Lukather and Lee Ritenour (“Shape of My Heart”), former Yes frontman Jon Anderson (“Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”), Paul Carrack (“Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot”) and former Free bassist Andy Fraser (“Every Breath You Take”). Carlos Santana, Joss Stone and Keb’ Mo’ are also on board but have not yet finalized their tracks.
“It all really started off by word of mouth,” says Miller. “I got involved with Andy Fraser and Slash first; I’d be nowhere without those two. When Andy did it, he then recommended Glenn Hughes. Glenn Hughes really liked it and recommended Julian Lennon. Slash got Fergie for his track. That’s how it all happened.”
Slash, who was introduced to Miller by mutual friends, says he was swayed by the producer’s passion and knowledge about the trafficking issue. “This is something that’s not really on the radar so much, and Gary is so passionate about it he will stop at nothing to get it to the place it needs to be,” Slash explains. “He wanted to do it through music, because music’s probably the most universal way of bringing people together. It’s a subject that everybody who’s involved cares about and seems to be keenly interested in trying to actually make a noise about.”
The noise Miller hopes to make isn’t limited to the eventual album and hoped-for Grammy Week activities. He’s secured a July 11, 2015 date for an event at the Phones 4 U Arena in manchester, England, and would like to tie it into the the 30th anniversary of Live Aid. “I’d like to do Rock Against Trafficking to celebrate that day,” he says. “It would be great to do a massive stadium gig wtih all the acts. I’ve spoken to a few of the artists and they’d love to do it. The main thing is creating awareness; all these stars have so many fans, it can only help raise awareness for this problem that’s getting worse all the time and all these kids who are getting abused — and adults, too.”
Miller has been keeping Sting’s management office and the other Police members appraised of his progress, but they have not yet commented publicly on the campaign or contributed ot it in any way. “I’d love them to come on in the end,” Miller says. “My dream is Sting comes in and writes a song no one’s ever heard before, but I’d be quite happy with a statement that this is a good idea. And would be great if Andy Summers wanted to play guitar or Stewart (Copeland) wanted to play drums, but we’ve not approached them yet. We’re taking it all in baby steps. It’s really important to make sure that people know this is real, ’cause there’s so many things that sprout up and don’t come to fruition.”
Why this music? “For starters, I’m a big fan,” says Miller, adding that any social commentary in Sting and the Police’s music was not a consideration in choosing them. “Initially it was just love of the music; I just think they’re great pop/rock songs. Obviously Sting’s lyrics are profound as well; even ‘Roxanne,’ which telling a protitute you don’t have to do it anymore, it’s quite relevant to what we’re doing here.”
R.A.T. has aligned with the International Justice Mission, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that works to fight trafficking and other human rights violations.