**The CompassionArt: Creating Freedom From Poverty CD/DVD releases in the US and Canada 1/27/09. As you may know, the award-winning CompassionArt charity is giving away 100 million brand new songs from its upcoming CD/DVD for a limited time (click here). With hundreds of major online and print publications, including the New York Times, USA Today and Forbes, covering the launch of the giveaway, thousands of songs have already been downloaded. This groundbreaking giveaway features six songs written collectively by 12 acclaimed songwriters and recorded by the most well-known artists in the whole genre of Christian/Gospel music. Requesting donations for the songs, the goal is to engage people everywhere to help end world poverty. ~ Hoganson Media
The Story Of Compassionart
by Christa A. Banister
For Delirious frontman Martin Smith, music has always been the healing balm he’s used to share a message of hope in a hurting world.
And for more than a decade now, Delirious has not only provided the soundtrack for Sunday morning services and played thousands of electrifying shows for millions of fans in clubs and churches worldwide, but the Gold-selling band has always challenged its audience to be “history makers”—people who look beyond their own needs to make a tangible difference in the lives of others.
Always striving to be someone who practiced what he preached, Smith couldn’t help but wrestle with a troubling dichotomy in his quest to be a history maker.
While he was nestled comfortably in the confines of five-star accommodations, many of those he was reaching out to, particularly in his international travels, were living in slums. If that wasn’t a shocking-enough reality check for the father of six, he also met an abundance of mothers and their young children, caught up in the horrifying, dangerous life of sex trade in India. And in Phnom Penh, a poverty-ravaged locale Smith visited in Cambodia, children were routinely digging through rubbish dumps just to find anything resembling food to make it through another day.
Unable to reconcile his comfortable life with that of “the least of these,” Smith knew something truly unique, something life-changing, needed to be done to start “creating freedom from poverty.” So Smith decided to give back with what he’s been given—a platform, a microphone and a knack for writing songs that connect with the heart—and boldly asked 11 of his fellow musician friends to do the same.
The Birth of CompassionArt
Then in an unprecedented move, he asked these friends, some of the most gifted, well-known and busiest songwriters in the world, to clear their schedules and join him for a songwriters’ retreat in a quaint, little Scottish town of Perthshire. During a week-long span, they’d collaborate on songs for a release where none of them would see a dime for all the hard work. Instead, 100% of the song royalties goes to the work of supporting the poorest of the poor around the world.
And surprisingly, one by one, each artist replied with a resounding “Yes!”
Like anything that’s really worth pursuing, the rather ambitious idea behind what ended up being called CompassionArt almost seemed too big to actually work. But Smith and his wife Anna weren’t about to let the complicated logistics of setting up the infrastructure of a global charity scare them off. And for the better of a part of a year and a half, they worked through most of the red tape.
Then in what Smith described as a “truly pinch-myself moment,” the artists, which included Paul Baloche, Steven Curtis Chapman, Delirious bandmate Stu G, Israel Houghton, Tim Hughes, Graham Kendrick, Andy Park, Matt Redman, Michael W. Smith and Darlene Zschech, began arriving in Scotland with a slew of great song ideas in tow. Later on sessions at the famed Abbey Road studio in London and the recording studios of Music City (Nashville) would feature fruitful collaborations with Chris Tomlin and a slew of genre-defining guest artists including Kirk Franklin, Amy Grant, Joel Houston, Leeland Mooring, Christy Nockels, tobyMac and CeCe Winans.
While pairing well-respected artists together who’ve sold more than 101 million albums, garnered 103 No. 1 songs, 32 Grammy Awards, 202 Dove Awards, 18 Stellar Awards, 3 American Music Awards and 116 of the CCLI’s Top 500 songs, could’ve easily led to some gossip-worthy diva moments, that was hardly the case with CompassionArt. With the endgame in the forefront of their minds, the ideas flowed fast and freely.
Creating Freedom From Poverty
“I love the team dynamic of CompassionArt. The common dream we have to reach out to the world’s poor through this vision made for lots of inspiring moments in both the songwriting stage and in the studio,” says Redman, a multiple Dove Award-winning artist known for congregational worship mainstays including “The Heart of Worship,” “Blessed Be Your Name” and “Better is One Day.”
“One of my favorite moments was gathering around the piano with Martin, Israel, Tim and Paul and writing the radio single ‘King of Wonders,” a song which started off when Steven and I wrote together,” Redman adds. “It was a great memory — friendship, worship, music and compassion all blended into one.”
But more than just one of those great memories that eventually fades away with time, Michael W. Smith says he’ll never forget this history-making occasion. “The time spent writing and recording these songs was one of the highlights of my life,” says Smith. “My hope is that these songs on the CompassionArt album will help feed the poor, satisfy the needs of the oppressed and reach out to the downtrodden.”
A New Era of History Makers
And that’s precisely why Martin encourages Christian music fans and worship leaders to partner in this history-making mission of “creating freedom from poverty” by purchasing the 14-track album and using the songs of CompassionArt in your Sunday morning worship services.
“The truth is that all this started as a response to the question, “How do artists engage in poverty?” When it comes to revealing the enormity of ways in which we who write and play and sing and dance and paint and edit and sculpt and cut and paste can get involved in breaking poverty’s stranglehold. This is a new day and we’re so glad you’ve joined the team,” Smith says.
Smith adds that something as simple as incorporating the songs of CompassionArt into your Sunday morning services can help make a huge difference, too.
“When you sing a song in church it actually makes money. A royalty is paid to CCLI, the global body that oversees the process. They take out a small percentage to cover admin costs and then pass the remainder of the royalty onto the songwriters’ publishers who take a cut themselves and then pass what remains to the writer of the song who then splits it with a management team. Why am I telling you this? Because what comes next is significant: Everyone involved in these songs from writers to publishers, managers to the team at CCLI has waived all their rights and allowed CompassionArt to own the copyrights,” Smith says. “There are no aces up the sleeve for anyone and everyone has given something away to make something extraordinary happen—with CompassionArt everyone is playing their part.”
One half of the proceeds over the songs’ lifetimes will be divided among four projects. Through the work of Hand of Hope (India and Cambodia), relief and restoration will be offered for families caught up in Mumbai’s sex trade and food and education will be provided to suffering children in Phnom Penh. With Ray of Hope (Brazil), a team gathers at the river to provide food, education, medical aid and everyday essentials to those in remote locations deep into the jungle. To rally against the trafficking of people, an ordinary group of activists with Stop the Traffik is a global movement with more than 1,000 member organizations in 50 countries. Finally, Uganda: Watoto helps restore hope to people whose lives are constantly marked with suffering. By providing creative life centers, Watoto encourages artistic education and plans for a better future for all.
The other 50% will benefit these artists’ individual projects, which include everything from Living Hope Community Centre, selected by Michael W. Smith to help those suffering with HIV, AIDS, and other chronic illnesses in Cape Town, South Africa, to Chapman’s Shaohannah’s Hope helping perspective adoptive parents overcome the financial barriers.
Together, these artists have discovered they can accomplish so much more, which is why the work of CompassionArt has been such a meaningful, life-long investment of their time. “The recording process might be over, but the real work of CompassionArt has just begun,” says Zschech. “Our heart and mission to relieve human suffering means for the rest of our lives we will live with our hearts fuelled in worship to have our lives poured out in service. I pray for continued wisdom and revelation, and for great grace and kindness, as justice makes a way for those who until now have only known grave suffering.”
For more information about CompassionArt, please visit www.CompassionArt.tv.
The Charities of CompassionArt
India and Cambodia: Hand of Hope
For families caught up in Mumbai’s sex trade and for children scraping survival on a rubbish dump in Phnom Penh, Hand of Hope offers relief and restoration.
Stop The Traffik
With more than 1,000 member organizations in 50 countries and a grassroots following of ordinary activists around the world, Stop the Traffik is a global movement against the trafficking of people.
Brazil: Ray of Hope
Every week in remote parts of Brazil, the Ray of Hope team heads to the river and the deepest parts of the jungle to meet the needs of children with food, education, support, advice, clothing and medical aid.
From orphaned children to abused mothers, Watoto restores hope to people whose lives have been devastated by suffering. By providing creative life centres, Watoto encourages artistic education and plans for a better future for all.
Compassion UK (nominated by Matt Redman)
Compassion seeks out some of the world’s most vulnerable children and through individual sponsors provides them with the means to break the cycle of poverty and create a viable future.
St Stephen’s (nominated by Andy Park)
For more than 40 years, St Stephen’s has worked among those addicted to drugs in Hong Kong. Founded by Jackie Pullinger, the charity has led thousands of people to faith and new hope.
Caring for Ex-Offenders and The Regeneration Trust (nominated by Tim Hughes)
Working across prisons and estates in London, CFEO seeks to enable prisoners to break the cycle of crime and re-integrate successfully back into society. The Trust works in deprived housing estates in London to help children and single parent families who suffer from the effects of poverty and to prevent others from falling into poverty.
Hope Rwanda (nominated by Darlene Zschech)
Hope Rwanda provides sustainable solutions to poverty that leads to restoration, primarily by building homes for widows and orphans.
Shaohannah’s Hope (nominated by Steven Curtis Chapman)
Dedicated to helping prospective adoptive parents overcome the financial barriers associated with adoption. The charity awards financial grants to qualified families already in the process of adopting, depending on their need.
For The Silent (nominated by Paul Baloche)
Working to bring an end to the sexual exploitation, trafficking and slavery of children worldwide, For the Silent provides a voice for those who don’t have one.
Beanz Meanz Livez (nominated by Stu G)
In the UK alone 88% of Britons have an estimated £10 in small change somewhere lost in their house. BML provides a means of collecting the coins and uses the money to provide clean water for families and children in India.
Restoring the Sound (nominated by Graham Kendrick)
Preventing African schoolgoers from getting caught in a culture of gangs and violence. Restore The Sound uses music as a means to better themselves and their community.
Baby Watoto (nominated by Chris Tomlin)
In Uganda, abandoned children—from newborns to two-year-olds—are given care, medical support and a loving environment and a future in a family as part of the Watoto Community.
Living Hope Community Centre (nominated by Michael W Smith)
Plays a vital role in the prevention, care, treatment and support of people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, and other chronic illnesses in Cape Town, South Africa.
Lakewood Missions (nominated by Israel Houghton)
Reaches out with hope and compassion through medical and humanitarian efforts, to assist people in great need.
Links International (nominated by Martin & Anna Smith)
From micro-enterprise to clean water, Links International has been serving and inspiring the church to impact local communities around the world since 1985.
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