By Lisa Collins, senior music editor, GospelMusicChannel.com
The directive – in the form of emails, text messages and word of mouth – was urgent: to spread the word about a live recording of the gospel music industry’s biggest stars in response to the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the already poverty-stricken nation of Haiti, impacting an estimated three million people with a death toll some say could top 100,000.
It came from Kirk Franklin, who was moved to act while watching the horrific images broadcast on CNN Wednesday night from his hotel in Nashville. The next night he took the stage of an already planned prayer service of gospel industry professionals and insiders to make an impassioned personal plea to his fellow artists: to take part in the recording of “Are You Listening: A Love Song for Haiti” to raise funds to help those in Haiti so desperately in need. Click here to learn more about ways you can help.
The response was overwhelming for what Franklin had dubbed as the gospel community’s answer to “We Are the World,” with more than 150 participants joined swiftly. BeBe & CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams, Marvin Sapp, Natalie Grant, Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary, Shirley Caesar, Jeremy Camp, Marvin Winans, J. Moss, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Karen Clark-Sheard, Kiki Sheard, Bishop Paul Morton, Donald Lawrence (as producer) and Micah Stampley and James Fortune (as choir members) participated in an endeavor that was becoming more important than the one that brought them to Music City for the 2010 taping of the 25th Annual Stellar Awards.
Franklin contacted Don Jackson, executive producer of The Stellar Awards, to request that GMC (Gospel Music Channel), which will be premiering The Stellar Awards on Feb. 28, send cameras and crews to capture the historic recording event. GMC did so and is producing the official music video for “Are You Listening: A Love Song for Haiti” which will world premiere in a special one-hour presentation on GMC Friday, Jan. 22 at 7 PM ET, immediately before GMC’s airing of the national “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon at 8 PM. The special will be hosted by Lisa Kimmey-Winans and will feature exclusive interview footage with Kirk Franklin from the recording session interspersed throughout multiple runs of the music video. GMC will encore the hour special on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 6 PM ET. The music video will then go into heavy rotation in all GMC music video blocks.
“We see these people as God’s children,” Franklin said. “We want to do our part and I just want people to know that the gospel community can respond to a powerful natural disaster, and for the first time it will.”
So committed was the gospel recording artist and star of Meet the Browns David Mann, that he and his wife Tamela stayed at the studio until 4:30 in the morning working on the track.
“It’s our chance to give back to people in need. That’s what ministry is all about,” Tamela stated, as her husband David added, “We have never pulled together and done anything like this and it’s one of those songs that really touches the heart and ministers.”