A faith-based charity backed by some of world's most prominent Christian musicians is giving away 100 million brand new songs from its soon-to-be-released project with the hope of engaging more people in the effort to end world poverty.
CompassionArt, which will release its album in the United States on Jan. 27, 2009, started giving away the new songs Tuesday, requesting only that donations be made for the songs to support the relief of suffering around the planet.
"We started with 12 of the best-known Christian recording artists, who have come together to create an album and a book, with all proceeds and royalties going to break the hold of poverty on people's lives around the world," reported CompassionArt founder and Delirious? frontman Martin Smith. "But we're not stopping there; CompassionArt is evolving to connect, inspire and release compassion all over the world."
"You are an integral part of this process," he told prospective supporters. "Please join us in this next step by downloading and donating what you can for these songs."
The songs that are being given away include six written collectively by 12 acclaimed songwriters – including Steven Curtis Chapman, Tim Hughes, Matt Redman, and Chris Tomlin – and recorded by some of the most well-known artists in the whole genre of Christian/Gospel music, such as Kirk Franklin, Amy Grant, and tobyMac.
In January, the 12 songwriters had come together with the common goal to write 10-12 songs for charity. By the end of the retreat, they completed 22 new songs.
More than a one-time live aid concert or a "We Are The World"-type song, the whole album of songs will forever benefit the poor. Songs can be heard, recorded, re-recorded and sung for generations, earning royalties for publishers when the songs are played and through a variety of other outlets over many years.
"The song 'Happy Birthday' generates an estimated $2 million a year for its publisher," CompassionArt promoters note. "That is the hope for these CompassionArt songs, except all the proceeds go to charity."
Michael W. Smith, who also helped write the songs, commented, "Hopefully, these songs will be played for a long time. If one or two or four of these connect on the church level where people are singing them in church every Sunday, that's income as well," according to the Associated Press.
Four collective projects were chosen to receive 50 percent of the proceeds from these songs – Hand of Hope, Stop The Traffik, Ray of Hope, and Watoto. The other 50 percent will go toward the 12 projects being supported by the 12 CompassionArt songwriters.
"From beginning to end, the CompassionArt project has felt like the heart of God expressed through music, friendship, and charity," commented songwriter and worship leader Paul Baloche in a public endorsement. "I pray that the Church will get behind this as all the royalties will go to help the poorest of the poor."
Smith hopes the project could serve as a model for other musical genres.
"I can't wait to tell Bono about this thing," he said, according to AP. "Why can't those guys do something like this in the world of rock and roll? I'd love to talk to Vince (Gill) or Alan Jackson and say 'Look what we did here.' I think it could become huge."
In addition to the album, the songwriters who gathered for the retreat earlier this year have united to produce a book, The Art of Compassion, to be published in January 2009. The twelve-chapter book unravels the trail of worship, hope and justice found in the lives of each of the writers, who share firsthand accounts of extreme poverty around the world.
As with the album, all proceeds generated from the book will support the work of 16 initial charities.