Progressive punk rock icons Anti-Flag have joined forces with Art For Amnesty to release an electrifying version of “Toast To Freedom,” the now-classic commemorative song written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International. The track — inspired by the imprisonment of Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot — will go on sale in Europe and the rest of world (without USA and Canada) on February 8th (USA and Canada on February 12th) via the iTunes Store and all leading DSPs. All net proceeds benefit Amnesty International.
The track’s genesis began in July 2012 at Anti-Flag’s Berlin concert benefitting the three then-jailed members of Pussy Riot — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich. Among the audience that night was longtime music industry executive, activist, and entrepreneur Jochen Wilms. In 2011, he, Carl Carlton and and his friend Bill Shipsey conceived and co-executive produced the original all-star Art For Amnesty Band rendition of “Toast To Freedom” and had since seen their brainchild become an organic worldwide phenomenon, with diverse artists from all over the globe creating their own unique interpretations.
Long active in the worldwide struggle for human rights, Anti-Flag quickly agreed to record their own take on “Toast To Freedom.” Not three months later, the Pittsburgh-based band hit Berlin’s historic Hansa Studio, accompanied by a roster of special guests that included Billy Talent guitarist Ian D’sa, Bernd Kurtze (of Berlin punk heroes, Beatsteaks), and Münster’s own DIY favorites, Donots.
With Wilms producing, Anti-Flag and Co. reveled in Hansa Studio’s extraordinary history, even going so far as to use the same microphones employed by David Bowie and Brian Eno when recording “Heroes” back in 1977. The result is the most intense and exhilarating rendition of “Toast To Freedom” thus far, a loud and powerful rallying cry sure to activate audiences everywhere.
Toast to Freedom — Anti-Flag (Deluxe Version) [feat. Donots, Ian D'Sa & Bernd Beatsteaks]
Preorder Itunes link:
And here are the 7″ Vinyl Preorder links for the limited 7″ vinyl edition:
7″ Vinyl (German preorder site)
7″ Vinyl (English preorder site)
On Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012, two new versions of “Toast to Freedom,” a song that first appeared in May of 2012 in celebration of the human right’s organization’s 50th anniversary, will be released. These new versions, each a unique interpretation of the original, continue to spread the organization’s human rights message.
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!
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 the 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.
Today would have been Levon’s 72nd Birthday. We all felt the need to be together today, to honor his life and to celebrate his birthday with music. The Levon Helm Team wanted to share the celebration with his extended family by hosting the first show since his passing in April.
The show will be very organic and will be very different from a Ramble. The music and being with friends, family and fans will be part of the healing process. This is how Levon would’ve wanted it. He wouldn’t want those four walls to be silent.
Members of The Levon Helm Band will play – in various configurations – throughout the night and will be joined by local musician/friends who asked to be part of it. The audience will also be filled with friends and neighbors who have so passionately supported us throughout the years.
The ‘barn’ will definitely resonate with love tonight.
Greetings from the Toast To Freedom team from all over the world with a small video about the soul of the Project as a hommage to Levon Helm.
Happy Birthday, Levon. We love you and we miss you, but we feel that you are with us.
Be among the music legends who have recorded “Toast To Freedom”: record your own vocal track of the song to be selected by our distinguished jury for a professional recording with global release and kick off your career as a singer!
After the great success of „Toast To Freedom“ and the amazing feedback we received from all over the world, we want to thank you for your support! But the „Toast To Freedom“ mission doesn’t stop here – quite the contrary:
Today we are celebrating the „World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development“ with the launch of the „Toast To Freedom“ song contest, powered by our Swedish partners Soundation.
“Sing it” gives you the opportunity to record your own version of the song and win amazing prizes! The unique online vocal contest has everything at hand to record your version and makes it easy to participate. The competition starts today and closes on 30th June 2012.
Record your own vocal version of the song via the contest page and share it with your friends on Facebook. Collect as many Facebook-Likes as possible: our jury will pick to winners out of the 20 contributions with the highest number of Facebook Likes.
Our jury consists of nobody less than the writers and producers of “Toast To Freedom”: Carl Carlton, Larry Campbell and Bob Clearmountain themselves will select the winners. The winners will be announced on July 9th.
1st prize: Professional recording session with one of the producers of “Toast To Freedom” to record your version of the song. It will be released worldwide this year, revenues will go to Amnesty International.
2nd prize: “Toast To Freedom” Duesenberg C.C. Guitar
3rd -10th prize: Apogee MiC USB-Microphones
Head over to our “Sing It”-site, get the lyrics and start singing!
Russian artists have been the first to create their own version of “Toast To Freedom” independently in support of Amnesty International.
Many more have asked us for the chords so they could create their very own version as well. So without further ado – here are the chords for all of you who want to create their own version of the song.
We’re also hosting a contest where the best contributions are going to be picked by your Facebook friends and a prominent Art for Amnesty jury to win a professional recording session, a guitar, music equipment – and last but not least: center stage for all the world to see! Just drop us your email address to get notified when the contest starts!
Two Russian artists are the first in a string of artists worldwide to create their own version of “Toast To Freedom”. Many more will be joining in over the course of the next few months to make their personal contribution in support of Amnesty International. It wasn’t difficult for Boris Barabanov, music writer for Russian newspaper “Kommersant”, to convince Russian rapper Basta (Vasily Vakulenko) to create an all-new lyrics version of “Toast to Freedom”, called “Svoboda”. Within days, the song reached more than 300.000 views on YouTube and will soon be available on iTunes.
For our visitors from Germany who can’t watch the video because of GEMA – here’s the track on SoundCloud:
The second Russian contribution is performed by Pavel Artemiev, Jenia Lubich and the Jukebox Trio, the most popular Russian acapella-beatbox group. It was performed live on May 3rd at the late night show “Evening Urgant” on Channel One in Russia:
The Art for Amnesty Band kicked off the worldwide release of “Toast To Freedom”, featuring Kris Kristofferson, Jonny Lang, Shawn Mullins, Larry Campbell, on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC last night.
To kick off the worldwide release of “Toast To Freedom”, the “Art for Amnesty Band“, featuring Kris Kristofferson, Jonny Lang, Shawn Mullins, Larry Campbell, and more, will perform “Toast To Freedom” on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC, Thursday, May 3 at 11:30pm et/10:30pm ct.
“Toast To Freedom” a new and exclusive commemorative song dedicated to human rights activism around the world.
Here’s the group:
Kris Kristofferson – guitar, vocal
Larry Campbell – guitar, vocal
Teresa Williams – vocal
Shawn Mullins – guitar, vocal
Jonny Lang – electrical guitar, vocal
Jeffrey Young – hammond b3, vocal
Lee Sklar – bass
Justin Guip – drums
Dean Parks – guitar
Vida Simon – bg vocals
Gaby Moreno – bg vocals
Essie Jain – bg vocals
Amnesty International today releases “Toast To Freedom,” a new and exclusive commemorative song dedicated to human rights activism around the world and performed by nearly 50 artists, including Levon Helm, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Angelique Kidjo, Ewan McGregor, Donald Fagen, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Eric Burdon, Taj Mahal, Florent Pagny, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Birkin, Jimmy Barnes, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Mullins, the Blind Boys of Alabama, among others.
Written by veteran guitarist/producers Carl Carlton (Robert Palmer, Eric Burdon, Keb 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,” which celebrates Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary, is being released to coincide with World Press Freedom Day. “Toast To Freedom” is available for purchase via the usual online retailers worldwide. Proceeds will benefit Amnesty International.
“Human rights are everybody’s business,” says Secretary-General of Amnesty International Salil Shetty. “I would like to thank all the people who gave their time to make this project happen. I hope Toast To Freedom will become a major source of inspiration in the coming years.”
The basic tracks were recorded at the legendary Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y, affectionately known as “the Barn,” and where Helm, a four-time Grammy winner, stages intimate, multi-artist concert performances known as the “Midnight Ramble.” Producer/engineer Bob Clearmountain (The Who, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen) produced the track, which was then sent out to artists, who added vocals.
“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.
Following Helms death on April 19, Wilms said: “Levon was one great soul. I am so grateful we got to work with him, his outstanding band and team in his barn in Woodstock. He was an inspiration and our muse. The song “Toast To Freedom” is dedicated to Amnesty International but in a certain way is now a “Toast To Levon” and a celebration for him as well: Truth, heart and soul were always part of Levon’s DNA and are the essential basis of Amnesty International and our project. We will miss him and love him forever.”
Shipsey said of Helm: “On behalf of Amnesty International’s millions of members around the world I want to say how grateful we are to Levon Helm for his generous artistic contribution and support that will make a real difference to our life-saving work around the world. We in Amnesty owe him a huge debt. The best way to repay that debt to him is by continuing our work. Levon Helm created with 50 international musicians some musical magic for Amnesty. This happens when goodness and love combine with kindness and art to produce beauty and power leading to unarmed truth – still the most powerful thing in the universe.”
Filmmaker Natalie Johns of Dig for Fire captured all stages of the international production on video. Johns is known for her works with such artists as Jay-Z, Peter Gabriel and The Rolling Stones. The project will be featured in a short “making-of” documentary as well as a companion music video.
In 1962, Amnesty International evolved from a one-year campaign to free political prisoners –the inspiration of a British lawyer outraged by the injustice he saw worldwide — into a global movement fighting for justice, freedom and human dignity.
“Our hope from the very start was to bring the message of freedom and human rights to a global audience,” said Shipsey.