Singer/author/activist Agnes Chan
's 'Forget Yourself,' an album primarily inspired by the children she met through her missions with UNICEF and other charity activities in Ethiopia, Thailand, the Philippines, Sudan and Nepal, will be released on Valentine's Day 2006 on Bungalo Records. Chan's album incorporates elements of dance, rock, world music and hip-hop into its broad-eared pop sensibility. A portion of the proceeds from the powerful album will benefit UNICEF.
Chan personally witnessed children struggling against hunger, war and oppression in underdeveloped regions worldwide but she has also been inspired by their will to survive. She brings several of those stories to life on this remarkable album. In the haunting "Sorrow Lives In This Village," featuring Andy Vargas, lead singer for Santana
, Chan takes on the voice of a child soldier whom she met in war-torn Sudan. The dance-pop of "Thirteen" belies a serious portrayal of a child prostitute in Manila. The affecting "One Step At a Time" is about two Ethiopian orphans she met. Although facing rampant malnutrition, she witnessed eight-year-old Arage nurse a three-year-old girl, Arumeto, back to health by sharing his small rations with her.
"As an entertainer, I believe awareness is one of the most important ways we can bring attention to these serious issues. I want to spread the message that these kids are real and not just images on tv," said Chan. "At the same time, I wanted the songs to be liberating and uplifting, close to the heart but true to reality."
"Inundated by billboards that let us know
How we must have it all and never be denied
But you know you can have it all and still not be satisfied
Then one day I heard this voice like a mission bell from far away
Then I felt it deep inside and this is what I heard it say
- Agnes Chan, "Forget Yourself"
Other songs on the record offer more insight into Chan's personal life. The moving, "It's a Wonder," which features a guest appearance by her superstar friend Jackie Chan
, is about becoming a mother to her three sons. Agnes said, "The song is arranged in a slightly Chinese flavor and it seems most appropriate when Jackie Chan joined me to sing along." She rounds out the record with the graceful "All The Days of My Life" which sums up her personal philosophy and the final message of the album. She says, "All the days of my life, I will try to give, whatever it takes to make a world where love lives."
Along with Jackie Chan and Vargas, additional special guest musicians include JR Richards from the platinum recording group Dishwalla
and the female pop duo The Dilettantes.
Although her U.S record label Bungalo Records is primarily known for hip-hop and R&B acts -- super producer/performer Rodney Jerkins, hip-hop star Heavy D
and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
's Bizzy Bone
-- President Paul Ring says working with Chan was an opportunity to get involved with her music and the causes she supports. Bungalo will donate nearly all of its proceeds from Chan's album to these organizations. Bungalo Records is exclusively distributed by Universal Music and Video Distribution.
"Musically it's a great album. I think [producers] Michael Carey and Robbie Siedman did a phenomenal job and Agnes is on top of her game, " said Ring. "However, I was unaware of some of the atrocities that Agnes sings about. It was pretty enlightening."
Originally hailing from Hong Kong, Chan has been a superstar since the age of fourteen. A renaissance woman, she earned a PhD in education from Stanford University in 1994 and was named Japan's ambassador to UNICEF in 1998. The activist/performer has authored over seventy books. An undeniable cultural force, she is also a university professor, television host, clothing designer, public speaker, mother and children's right advocate.