[Billboard Report]

Patriotic, Charitable Titles Swell

[28 September 2001]


LOS ANGELES - As Americans yearn for a sense of community following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many are finding refuge in music that celebrates their sense of patriotism. A new wave of charity-oriented projects in response to the disasters is also being rushed into production.

"[Patriotic] songs really pull us together as a nation, at a time when it's so important for us to be strong and be as one," says Antonio "L.A." Reid, president/CEO of Arista Records, which is re-releasing Whitney Houston's 1991 renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful."

According to Arista, the label has shipped 750,000 copies of the single, which went on sale Sept. 27 for $3.99. The wholesale cost is $2.20. Houston and Arista are donating their royalties and net proceeds to the New York Fraternal Order of Police and the New York Firefighters 9/11 Disaster Relief Fund.

But perhaps no patriotic song has been embraced during this tragedy as much as "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. "All the other patriotic songs deal with tradition, whereas 'God Bless the USA' is a modern approach to patriotism," says Greenwood, who wrote the song in 1983 following the downing of a Korean commercial airliner over Russian airspace. "It says something that none of the other songs say, which is 'I'm proud to be an American.' " The song is No. 25 on this week's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

American Patriot, one of many Greenwood catalog titles available that feature the song, soars to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Pop Catalog chart this issue. The title carries a suggested list price of $11.98.

"We've shipped more than 200,000 units," says Gene Rumsey, executive VP of sales and marketing for EMD Music Distribution. "We're not advertising it—we're just responding to demand as quickly as possible."

Universal Music Enterprises and WEA Distribution also have versions of the song on their own Greenwood collections—both priced at $5.99—that are seeing tremendous increases in sales, according to the labels.

Curb/WEA will release a commercial single of "God Bless the USA" Oct. 10, as well as LeAnn Rimes' version of "God Bless America." Curb is also compiling a collection of previously recorded inspirational songs by Rimes that it will release Oct. 16 under the title God Bless America. But none are charitable efforts.

Although unavailable commercially, Faith Hill's version of "The Star Spangled Banner" from 2000 has also been flooding the airwaves. The song is No. 41 on this issue's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Hill says, "To think that people are turning to my rendition [of the national anthem] for comfort, encouragement, or to pay tribute to the heroes of Sept. 11 is the highest praise I believe I can be given."

Sales of patriotic marches have also soared (see Declaration of Independents, page 66).

"There's been an amazingly weird variety of things people are looking for," says Eric Keil, VP of purchasing for South Plainfield, N.J.-based Compact Disc World. "We've had to do a lot of scrambling to meet demand."


The tragedy has spawned a number of new releases that are donating proceeds from sales to various charities. The following are a handful of upcoming projects:

• America: A Tribute to Heroes. Sources say that Interscope is negotiating to release a set compiled from the Sept. 21 telethon of the same name. Proceeds will go to the United Way's September 11th Fund.

• God Bless America (Columbia, $13.98, Oct. 16). This new compilation features a number of previously released patriotic or appropriately themed songs. The sole new track is Celine Dion's "God Bless America." A portion of the proceeds will go to the Twin Towers Fund. "God Bless America" was made digitally available to radio stations Sept. 24.

• "We Are Family" (Tommy Boy Records/ SumThing Else MusicWorks, $3.99, release date yet to be determined). The track is a remake of the Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards-penned Sister Sledge hit that features more than 75 celebrities, including Patti LaBelle and Queen Latifah. Proceeds are to be split with the American Red Cross and outreach programs promoting tolerance.

• What's Going On (Columbia, $11.98, Oct. 23). This five-track EP features versions of Marvin Gaye's classic tune and includes Bono, Destiny's Child, Backstreet Boys, and Fred Durst. First slated to benefit AIDS relief organizations worldwide, the project will now share its proceeds with the United Way's September 11th Fund.

• "What More Can I Give." Penned and spearheaded by Michael Jackson, this project features Destiny's Child, Marc Anthony, Brian McKnight, Tom Petty, and Seal, among others. Jackson has yet to announce a label, release date, price, or charity for the release.

• "El Ultimo Adiós" (Sony, $9.99, release date yet to be determined). This single features more than 30 Latin artists, including Chayanne, Thalía, and Gloria Estefan, on a new song penned by Emilio Estefan and Gian Marco. The disc also includes an English-language version, as well as an additional rendition in Spanish. Proceeds go to the American Red Cross and to the United Way.

Additional reporting from Leila Cobo in Miami.




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