Johannesburg – Entertainers and sport stars might be bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 lockdown, but a record number of celebrities are united to lend their voices to inspire hope during these unprecedented times.
Eighty local musicians, DJs, actors, sport personalities and influencers collaborated to record a rendition of US singer and songwriter Bill Withers’s 1972 hit Lean on Me.
The local version includes the song’s original chorus and some lyrics but also introduces Setswana and Afrikaans lines. It has been punted as the country’s new soundtrack during the global health crisis.
The tune, which was released online free of charge this week, was made in partnership with pharmaceuticals company Cipla SA.
“We wanted to shed light on mental issues and that’s why we partnered with Cipla, because they are also ambassadors for mental health,” singer and actor Emo Adams, the brainchild behind the project, said.
“This will live on for longer than when the radio stops playing it and can become a theme song for Cipla in that regard.”
Adams said he wanted to include a range of personalities on the track, and not only musicians, as he felt that was the best way to reach a wider audience.
“It was expected to have only singers but I wanted to break that stereotype, I wanted to get in different types of people, because I knew this message was bigger than just singers and that it was important to have a collaboration of this nature.”
Adams convince the likes of Heinz Winckler, Jack Parow, Early B, SashaLee Davids, Paxton Fielies and David Kramer to contribute their voices to the track.
They are joined by the likes of Bryan Habana, Katlego Maboe, JP Duminy, Rolene Strauss and Nadia Jaftha who are all known for their talents outside the music industry.
All the personalities provided their talents free of charge, recorded their own audio and shot their videos from their cellphones during the lockdown.
“The interesting thing about this whole project was the fact that 99% of the content from all audio and video recordings was done via cellphone,” said Adams.
“I think that speaks volumes in terms of everyone becoming their own producer, director, sound engineer and making sure that the light was right at the same time.”
Adams said he also urged the personalities to shoot their segments outdoors. “The whole aim was to make light of this situation, so I urged the talents to try to be outdoors, to try to not wear a mask and try and to let people know that, irrespective of us sitting in this difficult time, there is still something to live for, there is still something to look forward to.”
“Tomorrow is still another day and that was the foundation of the song.” Combining all the personalities’ audios and videos into one track in order to compile the music video was also mainly done via cellphone technology.
“This project is different in almost every way,” Adams said. “We had to pull this off during the Covid-19 lockdown and none of us saw one another at any given time.”
Adams took on a logistical role in the project and was in charge of getting the right people involved.
His music producer, Charlton Daniels, then had his work cut out as he adapted the various audio and videos recorded and shot in different environments into one song and then work on the music video.
This at a time access to a recording studio is limited because of the lockdown.
“This was the biggest and most challenging project that I have worked on but at the same time, it showed what is possible with just your phone and how technology has advanced.
“It also showed that we can all work together and pull off songs of this nature and not even be in the same place. The song came together as it was meant to be.”
Despite all the challenges, Adams is proud of the core message that the song represents and he believes that it will provide comfort to those who are suffering physically, emotionally and financially during the pandemic.
“I wanted to remind people that whatever is going on in their lives, there is somebody out there going through the exact same scenario.”
“We are also sometimes consumed by pride but I am saying Lean on Me, and if someone helps thy neighbour, then no one would need help. “That is why I felt that this song was so important.”