More than 5,000 pupils from schools in 48 countries including Syria and Ukraine, have taken part in the biggest children’s online song recording ever undertaken.
The record-breaking charity project involved 5,021 students, aged 5-18, providing vocals for a song called Listen To Us, released this week on CD.
Now in its third year, the not-for-profit Voices Around The World project is dedicated to linking young people across the globe through music by inviting schools to participate in an international music recording.
Last year it recorded a then record-breaking 4,000 voices from 42 countries. Their song Unshakeable, was written by 1980s pop star Howard Jones, who is still involved with the initiative.
Project leader Laurie Lewin, a former school headteacher, music teacher and Ofsted inspector from Devon, composed this year’s song. Listen to Us reflects on the importance of young people's voices being heard by their teachers and parents, and even world leaders.
Pupils from national, independent and international schools in countries as far away as Brazil and South East Asia submitted recordings of themselves singing the lyrics, which were mixed together at studios in London and Exmouth.
Proceeds from sales of the CD and DVD, launched this week at Tymberwood Academy in Gravesend, Kent, will this year be supporting schools in Tanzania that need basic learning resources.
Mr Lewin visits the schools taking part where possible and was inspired to find a school in Syria to participate in this year’s project while visiting a school in Dubai last year.
“I spoke to a young girl there who’d been practising the song with me,” he explained. “She said ‘I’d like to be singing this with my friends back in Syria.’ She was a Syrian refugee. Thanks to her wish, this year we are thrilled to have children from Al-Shams School, Sweida city, joining us on the recording.”
The project is very important to participants, Mr Lewin said. "Young people really want to make a difference and want to work together for change,” he explained. “Many we’ve spoken to show they’re absolutely passionate about the meaning behind the words of the song – you can see it in their faces and hear it in their voices while they’re singing. The project has a huge impact on them.”
Kristina Bourne, a music teacher at a participating international school in Bahrain, added: “Sharing in the recording of a song with a common goal is an incredibly powerful experience, uniting children of so many cultures with one important message – working together, you can make a difference.”
Mr Lewin said: “Each year Voices Around The World breaks more and more records with an ever increasing number of schools and youth organisations taking part.
"We are really really pleased that the project covers some of the World’s troubled hotspots such as Syria, Nigeria and Ukraine, showing that while the adults in these regions may not be able to reach peaceful solutions, their young people are 10 steps ahead, linking up with youngsters in so many countries in musical and cultural harmony."