WASHINGTON - December 2 - As fans worldwide mark with sorrow the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) continues to use his music to champion his message. The world's largest grassroots human rights organization recently concluded its two-year-long Imagine campaign and prepares to launch a new global venture involving top artists performing Lennon's songs.
"John Lennon's message of hope lives on in his art, which continues to resonate today, two and a half decades after his tragic death," said AIUSA Executive Director Dr. William F. Schulz. "AIUSA is honored to help continue his legacy by using his music to advance the vision he articulated so eloquently."
Launched in 2002 after Yoko Ono's generous gift of the rights to her late husband's unparalleled anthem, Imagine, AIUSA's Imagine campaign involved print, film, television and the Internet. San Francisco-based Collaborate agency produced print ads, with the internationally renowned Magnum Photos the exclusive photographic sponsor. The print campaign launched with a four-page ad insert in The New Yorker and ran in dozens of magazines.
A music video and television PSAs, filmed by director Paul Dektor, featured children in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States singing Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer's and Stewart Levine's new version of Imagine. The video premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and was subsequently seen in more than 50 countries around the world, in cities from Dublin to Moscow, Lima to Tehran.
Enthusiasm for the Imagine campaign was infectious. Actress and singer Mandy Moore created a special Imagine t-shirt with an original hand-drawn design. The French
Canadian section of Amnesty International assembled 80 Canadian pop stars to record a new version of Give Peace a Chance in the same Montreal hotel suite where it had first been recorded 35 years before. For more on the campaign, please see http://www.amnestyusa.org/imagine/.
The Imagine campaign originated in the aftermath of September 11th, when actor Gabriel Byrne saw a children's choir sing a moving version of Imagine at his niece's graduation ceremony. Inspired, Byrne -- a longtime Amnesty International supporter -- proposed to AIUSA Marketing Director Helen Garrett that the organization make the song the centerpiece of a new campaign to educate and inspire young people worldwide about human rights. Yoko Ono was equally enthusiastic, and she generously agreed to grant the song's license. The shared vision: to engage and inspire a new wave of human rights activism.
Ono told Billboard Magazine that her decision to give Amnesty International the use of the song was based on the organization's 40-year career of fighting for human rights throughout the world -- "work that embodies the spirit of Imagine."
And AIUSA was thrilled when Ono, recognizing the continued urgency of human rights activism in today's world, generously gifted Amnesty International the recording rights to John Lennon's entire solo songbook, paving the way for a new campaign using Lennon's music.
On December 10, 2005, to coincide with Human Rights Day, and just after the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death on December 8, Amnesty International will unveil a new global venture involving Lennon's music performed by an international roster of renowned artists. The campaign launches with a bundle of exclusive downloadable singles, followed in early 2006 by the release of an array of new versions of iconic John Lennon tracks from top musicians.
The artists involved are supporters of human rights as well as favorites of young people worldwide. Forward-looking and celebratory, the venture aims to attract one million new young human rights activists around the globe. For more information, and to request a media pack, please visit http://www.amnesty.org/noise or contact AIUSA.
"The world needs John Lennon's spirit now more than ever," said Garrett. "AIUSA is grateful to Yoko Ono for the opportunity to continue her late husband's legacy. We hope to use the unique power of his music to inspire a new generation to stand up for human rights."
CAPTION: Two refugee girls at risk of joining the hundreds of thousands of child soldiers worldwide (Peter Marlow/Magnum)