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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"Give Just A Little" Seattle Helps The Hungry (1985)

The release of Band Aid's 1984 single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" raised a new consciousness of the devastating famine in Ethiopia in which several million Ethiopians died after years of drought and the unimaginable horror and suffering the Ethiopian people were enduring.

The success of the single inspired an American response single, "We Are The World" by USA For Africa and soon, artists from other countries and music communities began releasing what has become known as The Benefit Single. In which artists, producers, recording studios, labels, distributors and retail outlets would donate their talent, time and resources in bringing these singles to market with no compensation and 100% of the proceeds from the single would go to the charities in which they were intended.

After seeing a similar benefit single released by local artists in another city, Seattle producer and songwriter David Perry created Seattle's own benefit single for Ethiopia. This single, "Give Just A Little" was a sort of who's who of Seattle's local music talent and media personalities of that time. Including Annie Rose & The Thrillers, The Eagertones, The Dynette Set, Rail, The Cowboys, Chuck Conlon, Eric Tingstad, Michael Tomlinson, Mondo Vita and Red Dress. Radio and TV personalities Wayne Cody and Nick Walker of KIRO-TV, KUBE Radio's Truck Rogers, KHIT Radio's Maureen Matthews, KPLZ's Jeff King, KNBQ's R.P McMurphy and local legend Merrilee Rush (who sang the original version of the pop classic "Angel of The Morning"). As well as The Neville Brothers and many others.

The single benefitted the USA For Africa aid charity as well as local food bank Northwest Harvest. Reminding us that hunger exists right around the corner as well as halfway around the world.

This single (like many others) got some brief media attention, but it was also becoming apparent the market was becoming saturated with benefit singles and while local sales were good, they were eclipsed by the "We Are The World" single which inspired them.

However, as we are approaching the 30th anniversary of "We Are The World" (and it still seems like yesterday!), these singles still stand as an irrefutable testament to the fact that were it not for the music communities, Ethiopia would have starved while the politicians just talked. And every little bit helped.

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