R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe Records Charity EP With Justin Timberlake, Chris Martin & More
"The news cycle has moved on and I don't want the public to forget about those who were affected by Katrina or to believe that everything is fine now," says Stipe, a Georgia native with family roots in the Gulf region. "Things are not fine. The storm is still impacting people's lives in very real ways and many have been left desperate. I want to remind each of us that as humans, and certainly as Americans, it is our responsibility to help those in need."
"Disasters like this require a long-term commitment to recovery," said Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer. "Michael is serving a very important need by reminding the public that this reconstruction effort is going to take years, not months."
To that end, Stipe chose to cover a powerful, anthemic ballad written by singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur, whom he became aware of through R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. "The first time Joseph and I spoke, he was in New Orleans," Stipe says, "and I had to call a New Orleans number to reach him to have that first conversation. When I saw what happened with Katrina, 'In the Sun' came to mind. He writes from a very deep, intuitive place."
When it came time to record, it wasn't hard for Stipe to recruit the artists who participated in the project. In addition to the duet with Coldplay's Chris Martin, Justin Timberlake and will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas) contributed a remix of the song that will also be available for download. Also involved were Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, who plays piano, and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, who produced the song with Stipe and Arthur at Stratosphere Sound studio in New York City.
"In The Sun" will make its primetime network debut on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," one of the most-watched television shows of the season. Produced by Touchstone Television, "Grey's Anatomy" is a medical drama about young interns struggling to become doctors and doctors struggling to remain human. "We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to debut this amazing piece of music on our Super Bowl episode of 'Grey's Anatomy.' It is all the more gratifying that the song's proceeds are going to such a worthy cause," says Executive Producer Betsy Beers.
In addition to the EP's release, a short film, also entitled "In the Sun," will air on the Sundance Channel this spring. It features interviews with Stipe, Martin, Arthur, will.i.am, Iha, historian Douglas Brinkley, hurricane survivors still trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, and many of the volunteers trying to help them do it. The film, which was directed by noted photographer and Grammy-nominated video director Danny Clinch, also includes original footage of the current state of the devastation shot over three days in early January. It was produced by cYclops LLC and 3 on the Tree Productions for Stipe's In The Sun Foundation and made possible by the Sundance Channel.
Wanting to do his part to help residents of the Gulf Coast was natural for the Decatur, Georgia-born Stipe. Not only has R.E.M spent a lot of time in New Orleans, but the band's most beloved and best-selling album, "Automatic For the People," was recorded there. "It's a city that has its own legend," he says. "It's a unique place, not only to this country but to the world. I had to do something as a Southerner. I had to do something as a public figure. The one thing I can do is sing, and it's probably the best way to get people to pay attention."
1. Michael Stipe - In the Sun (Gulf Coast Relief) (Feat. Chris Martin)
2. Michael Stipe - In the Sun (JAW Breakers Remix) (Feat. Chris Martin, Mix by Justin Timberlake and will.i.am)
3. Michael Stipe - In the Sun (Feat. Joseph Arthur)
4. Michael Stipe - In the Sun (Michael Stipe)
5. Michael Stipe - In the Sun (w/ Coldplay) (Recorded Live at Austin City Limits)
6. Michael Stipe - In the Sun (Free Acoustic Couch Rehearsal) (Michael Stipe/Joseph Arthur)
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