The story behind

Written by veteran guitarist/producers Carl Carlton (Robert Palmer, Eric BurdonKeb Mo) and Larry Campbell (Levon Helm Band, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello), “Toast To Freedom” is the brainchild of Carlton, and longtime music industry executive, activist, and entrepreneur Jochen Wilms in collaboration with Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey. “Toast To Freedom” was inspired by Carlton, a longtime supporter of Amnesty International, who suggested teaming up with Wilms on a commemorative project to mark the organization’s 50th anniversary.

“They really fell in love with our song,” Wilms says. “Amnesty said that they’d like us to record it, but that I would have to manage it. I thought, ‘Oh my God, what kind of commitment have I made?’ But I’ve been lucky in my life so I said, ‘Fine. I will make it happen.’

The basic tracks were recorded at the legendary Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y, affectionately known as “the Barn,” where acclaimed artists like the Black Crowes and My Morning Jacket have made recordings and where Helm, a four-time Grammy winner, stages his intimate, multi-artist concert performances known as the “Midnight Ramble.”

“The Barn is a magical place of peace and calm that recharges your mojo,” Carlton says. “It’s a fantastic sounding room with an extraordinarily generous host who embraces your talent and soul.”

“Toast To Freedom” is available for purchase via the usual online stores worldwide. Proceeds will benefit Amnesty International. Moreover, “Toast To Freedom” will be available in a wide assortment of audio mixes, including “Global Master Mixes” for both the “Extended Version” and “Radio Edit;” as well as later on regional specific remixes South America, Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA.

Find everybody who made this song possible in the Credits

“Toast To Freedom” has since been reinterpreted by a remarkable range of artists moved by the song’s indefatigable spirit. Among them are such unique artists as Russian rap icon Basta, whose version of the song – dubbed “Svoboda” (“Freedom” in Russian) – hast become a true sensation in his native country. Basta created “Svoboda” by melding potent new lyrics with samples from the original “Toast To Freedom” track.

What’s more, an additional version of “Toast To Freedom” was performed live on Russian TV by the vocal collective of Pavel Artemiev, Jenia Lubich, and Russia’s top a capella beatbox group, The Jukebox Trio.  The performance, which was initially broadcast on the Channel One late night show, Evening Urgant.

Meanwhile, students at Germany’s Hochschule Osnabrück started a communal production of “Toast To Freedom”. More than forty students at the Institute for Music of the College at Osnabrueck, the symphony orchestra of Osnabrueck and thousands of local citizens have turned recordings of the Amnesty International anthem “Toast To Freedom” into a demonstration for freedom that’s truly one-off-a-kind!  Moreover, they blazed unexpected musical trails with a powerful dance version of the song dubbed as “Toast to Freedom – The Freedom City Mix.” The project – inspired by Osnabrueck musician and journalist Heinz Rebellius – was initially intended only to include students at the college.  However, as Martin Behrens, director of the Pop studies program, explains, “it soon dawned on us to include not only the Osnabrueck symphony orchestra, but the entire city!”  For this the annual May street festival called „Maiwoche“ delivered the perfect opportunity. The festival enabled a chorus of thousands of Osnabrueck residents to gather together in the main square of the town, which has already for centuries been known as the “Freedom City.”  Carl Carlton, composer and lyricist for the original version of the song, also expressed admiration for the “Freedom City Mix” of his song:  “The fact that the entire city of Osnabrueck joined in creating this version is something very special.  You can see the enthusiasm in the video: the stage performers and audience members practically melt together as one – that’s how it should be!”

Artists from all corners of the globe were on hand for Electric Burma: A Concert for Aung San Suu Kyi, on June 18th at Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Organized and promoted by Art for Amnesty´s Bill Shipsey, the extraordinary event was a celebration of Nobel Peace Prize recipient and leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi. Electric Burma was highlighted by Aung San Suu Kyi’s acceptance of Amnesty International’s prestigious Ambassador of Conscience Award, conferred on individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership in the fight to protect and promote human rights. Electric Burma further included a very special live performance of “Toast To Freedom. The unique multi-artist rendition featured an all-star band led by the song’s writer and Electric Burma’s Co-Musical Producer Carl Carlton, who said: “It will be a great honor perform ‘Toast To Freedom’ for Aung Saan Su Kyi. She stands for everything I believe in and fight and write for. She is the spirit of ‘Toast To Freedom’.”

Coinciding with the release of “Toast to Freedom,” Amnesty also sponsored a competition encouraging musicians all over the world to enter their own musical interpretations and arrangements of this catchy tune. Of the many entries received, “Toast to Freedom – The Berlin Mix” by young Berlin artist Luca, was unanimously chosen by the judges as the winner.  Inspired by Berlin’s own struggles against tyranny, Luca succeeded in creating a moving arrangement that captures a deep and intense yearning for freedom. Luca’s version was also a clear winner for songwriter Carl Carlton: “The message of the original, which is about each individual’s right to freedom and the protection of human rights around the world, is in Lucas’ version transformed into a very personal one. This is a young voice coming forward to make the point that the fight for freedom and human rights takes place in our very own back yards every day.” Executive producer Jochen Wilms says, “Luca’s Berlin Mix adds a new and very personal dimension to the artistic initiative.  She recorded it independently in Berlin and, together with Berlin cameraman Daniel Devecioglu and co-director Tom Richter, also produced her own video – a truly impressive and moving professional production!”

Lyrics

VERSE 1

How delicious is the winning of her kiss

Bind her love to eternal bliss

She’s the greatest power in the universe

Freedom

 

Her touch will feed your real hope

In the darkest of days and on the steepest slope

Let your good heart and kindness fill her temple

Freedom

 

BRIDGE

Nobody’s free until everybody’s free

We walk a long winding road, sail the raging seas

No prison cell, no censorship hell

Can claim our obedience and love

 

CHORUS

Here’s our toast to freedom

To human rights and dignity

Love, respect and forgiveness

United in the dream for victory

Here’s to the battlefields for justice

Of the tortured, banished and enslaved

To the selfless spirit and commitment

To our brothers and sisters in the grave

 

VERSE 2

She hurts when sovereigns and parliaments meet

To shackle more chains about Liberty’s feet

When the rulers cast the votes they can not spell

Freedom

 

Her open eyes desire nothing but the truth

The soul of mankind, untainted youth

Yes–for this I will stand up and fight

Freedom

 

BRIDGE 2

Nobody’s free until everybody’s free

We walk a hard road, sail the raging seas

No prison cell, no censorship hell

Can claim our obedience and love

 

CHORUS 2

Here’s our toast to freedom

To human rights and dignity

Love, respect and forgiveness

United in the dream for victory

 

Here’s to the battlefields for justice

Of the banished, tortured and enslaved

To the selfless spirit and commitment

To our brothers and sisters in the grave

 

SOLO

 

BRIDGE 3

Nobody’s free until everybody’s free

Together we walk a hard road, sail the raging seas

No prison cell, no censorship hell

Can claim our obedience and love

 

BREAKDOWN

 

Here’s our toast to freedom

To human rights and dignity

Love, respect and forgiveness

United in the dream for victory

 

OUTRO (W/BACKGROUND VOCALS)

 

Here’s our toast to freedom

To human rights and dignity

Love, respect and forgiveness

United in the dream for victory

 

Here’s our toast to freedom

To human rights and dignity

Love, respect and forgiveness

United in the dream for victory

 

Here’s our toast to freedom

To human rights and dignity

Love, respect and forgiveness

United in the dream for victory

 

Here’s our toast to freedom

To human rights and dignity

Love, respect and forgiveness

United in the dream for victory

  المقطع الأول

يا لحلاوة الفوز بقبلتها

فقيّد حبها بأبدية سعادتها

فهي الطاقة الكبرى في الكون

الحرية

 

ستحقق لمستُها أمنيتك الحقيقية

في أحلك الأيام والمنحدرات العتيّة

فاجعل قلبك الطيب وحنانك يملأن معبدها

الحرية

 

المشط

لا حرية لأحد إلى بحرية الجميع

فسيرنا بطريق أعوج، وبحارنا متلاطمة الأمواج

فلا الزنزانة بالسجن ولا جحيم الرقابة

يمكنه مطالبة دعوتنا ومحبتنا

 

الكورال

هذا نخبنا نحو الحرية

نحو حقوق الإنسان والكرامة

فالحب والاحترام والتسامح

يجتمعون في حلم الانتصار

هذا نخبنا نحو معركة العدالة

ضد التعذيب والنفي والاستبعاد

نحو الروح غير الأنانية والالتزام

نحو إخواننا وأخواتنا في القبور

 

المقطع الثاني

إنها تتألم عند مقابلة أصحاب السيادة والبرلمان

لربط المزيد من السلاسل حول أقدام الحرية

عندما يصوّت الحكام لا يستطيعون الهجاء

الحرية

 

عيونها المفتوحة لا ترغب سوى الحقيقة

روح البشرية والشباب الخالص

نعم فسأدافع وأقاتل في سبيل ذلك

الحرية

 

المشط الثاني

لا حرية لأحد إلى بحرية الجميع

فسيرنا بطريق أعوج، وبحارنا متلاطمة الأمواج

فلا الزنزانة بالسجن ولا جحيم الرقابة

يمكنه مطالبة دعوتنا ومحبتنا

 

الكورال الثاني

هذا نخبنا نحو الحرية

نحو حقوق الإنسان والكرامة

فالحب والاحترام والتسامح

يجتمعون في حلم الانتصار

 

هذا نخبنا نحو معركة العدالة

ضد التعذيب والنفي والاستبعاد

نحو الروح غير الأنانية والالتزام

نحو إخواننا وأخواتنا في القبور

 

مقطع فردي

 

المشط الثالث

لا حرية لأحد إلى بحرية الجميع

فسيرنا بطريق أعوج، وبحارنا متلاطمة الأمواج

فلا الزنزانة بالسجن ولا جحيم الرقابة

يمكنه مطالبة دعوتنا ومحبتنا

 

رقصة صاخبة

 

هذا نخبنا نحو الحرية

نحو حقوق الإنسان والكرامة

فالحب والاحترام والتسامح

يجتمعون في حلم الانتصار

 

الخاتمة (مع أصوات خلفية)

 

هذا نخبنا نحو الحرية

نحو حقوق الإنسان والكرامة

فالحب والاحترام والتسامح

يجتمعون في حلم الانتصار

 

هذا نخبنا نحو الحرية

نحو حقوق الإنسان والكرامة

فالحب والاحترام والتسامح

يجتمعون في حلم الانتصار

 

هذا نخبنا نحو الحرية

نحو حقوق الإنسان والكرامة

فالحب والاحترام والتسامح

يجتمعون في حلم الانتصار

 

هذا نخبنا نحو الحرية

نحو حقوق الإنسان والكرامة

فالحب والاحترام والتسامح

يجتمعون في حلم الانتصار

The Music Video

Making of