wears the trousers magazine

free music friday: actionaid 6 degrees project


ActionAid 6 Degrees Project feat. Róisín Murphy, Sinéad O’Connor, Amanda Ghost, Micachu, thecocknbullkid + Alessi’s Ark
‘I’m Every Woman’ [Chaka Khan cover]

With each day that goes by it’s becoming easier and easier to play the game of 6 Degrees of Swine Flu with musical folks like Lissy Trullie and Jens Lekman having to spend time in quarantine, and as the virus spreads here in London we’re counting our removes from unlucky friends who’ve found themselves confined to their bedrooms (thankfully expected to have 100% recovery). We’ve probably never been more aware of the fact that we’re all connected, but ActionAid’s 6 Degrees project is here to remind us that those connections can span unimagined distances. Supported by several high profile musicians, journalists and celebrities, 6 Degrees is shining the spotlight on the charity’s work on women’s rights issues in countries where extreme poverty claims the lives of thousands of women.

Released on the 100th anniversary of the first suffragette hunger strike in Britain, the 6 Degrees project is giving away a very unusual cover of Chaka Khan’s prevailing disco hit ‘I’m Every Woman’ dreamt up by current President of Epic Records, Amanda Ghost, and featuring five very different female artists: leftfield pop diva Róisín Murphy, musical icon and political force Sinéad O’Connor, plus up and coming Londoners Micachu, thecocknbullkid and Alessi’s Ark. The track was inspired by the story of Hajara Mukyala, a 20 year old single mother who lives in one of the poorest slums in the Ugandan capital of Kampala having been forced to work as a prostitute after a terrifying sexual assault aged 14 left her pregnant and thrown out onto the streets. 

Wears The Trousers caught up with Amanda over email to talk about her involvement with ActionAid’s 6 Degrees project and about the track.


Who/what initiated your work with ActionAid?

I had just moved to New York and I got a call from my publicist asking if I wanted to get involved. I didn’t think I’d have the time, just starting a new job as President of Epic, but then ActionAid shared Hajara’s story with me and explained how I was connected to her via Miranda Sawyer, Ladytron, etc. They researched the chain and shared it with me. Add to that the shocking fact that 70% of the world’s poor are women and I knew that I had to get involved and help spread their message. It still amazes me when I think about it – we really are all connected. This is why I feel it’s so important that women get involved and support this.

Were you nervous about covering such an iconic song?

No, not at all. I’m a friend of Chaka’s and when I thought of covering it I gave her a call to see what she thought. I explained the project and told her I wanted to give the track a more sombre feel. She loved the idea and so I knew it was a good approach.

Did you invite her to sing on it?

I did. She was in LA and I sent her over the track and asked her to add a vocal. It’s absolutely brilliant to have her involved.

What other song(s) would you have considered if you hadn’t been given permission to cover ‘I’m Every Woman’?

The original idea was to create a new song but then I thought about ‘I’m Every Woman’ and knew this was the one we should do. Everyone thinks of it as a disco anthem, but when you think of the message in the song it’s so relevant to what we’re talking about with 6 Degrees.

Being a women-centric project, there is obviously a strong feminist element. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Is this something that informs your role as President of Epic?

I don’t know if I would consider myself a feminist. I do think that the music industry, especially in the UK, needs to tap into female talent more. Not in respect to artists but A&Rs, label bosses, producers, engineers, etc. Most of the people who buy music are women so it makes sense to have more women involved in the creative process and decision making.

Although the track is obviously an all-women affair, the project has the support of various male celebrities. Do you think it’s important that projects like 6 Degrees make room for men who support women’s rights to get actively involved?

Definitely. Every man has a mother! In order to really change the system you need to have the support of men as they, unfortunately and unfairly, have a lot of the power.

Has this project inspired you to become more active in women’s rights initiatives?

Yes, definitely.

What’s the next step for 6 Degrees now the song is out there? Raising awareness is the first step towards action, but what can your audience then do to make a real difference?

There are lots of ways for people to get involved in the campaign. They can donate to help support ActionAid’s women’s rights work around the world, they can send a message of solidarity, or join the debate started by Cherie Blair on The Independent’s website [here]. It’s important to get people engaged and keep them interested so that they will stay involved with the issues.

How will any fundraising from the 6 Degrees project be spent?

ActionAid will use the money to support their women’s rights work around the world. They have a lot of projects that they fund on a local level that helps women get access to healthcare, education, food, microfinance and training, etc.

Do you see poverty in women and children becoming a larger issue closer to home in the UK?

I’m not really sure. I think that women’s rights issues are always on people’s minds here and the government is really supportive to make sure the system is fair and helpful to women.

[interview by Charlotte Richardson Andrews]


FREE MP3: ActionAid 6 Degrees Project, ‘I’m Every Woman’ [registration required]

Read more about Hajara’s story and the genesis of the track at www.actionaid.org.uk/6degrees


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[…] on from her involvement in the ActionAid 6 Degrees recording of ‘I’m Every Woman’ earlier this year, Sinéad O’Connor has re-recorded one of her own songs in aid of anti sex […]

Pingback by sinéad o’connor and mary j blige join the fight against child prostitution « wears the trousers magazine

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