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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Band Aid secures top UK singers
By Ian Youngs
BBC News

Dido
Dido has become one of the UK's biggest musical exports
Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn and Dido are among the latest stars to sign up for a new Band Aid charity Christmas single, organiser Midge Ure has said.

He is also hoping to persuade Radiohead star Thom Yorke and Robbie Williams.

Blur singer Albarn will do it as part of his side-project Gorillaz, Ure said, while Oasis star Noel Gallagher has told Bob Geldof he is on board.

They will join Coldplay, The Darkness and Keane to re-record the 1984 smash hit Do They Know It's Christmas?

Travis and Beverley Knight are also signed up, while Jamelia and Katie Melua are among other possible participants.

"It's a pretty big line-up," Ure said. "Once you've got a handful of people like that, the rest of it will come. The phones are ringing off the hook right now."

Beverley Knight with Midge Ure
To think 20 years later, I'm going to be involved in that same project because the problem has not gone away is harrowing
Beverley Knight
The original Band Aid featured artists including Duran Duran, U2, Sting and George Michael, selling 3.5 million copies in the UK alone to raise money for the Ethiopia famine.

Ure said artists were "very willing" this time around, but they would not try to recreate the spirit of the original.

"I'm desperate to hear Keane and Coldplay just open that tune up with their pianos and then The Darkness play the harmony guitar bits at the end - it should be great fun," he said.

Many artists have said they will drop whatever they are doing to record the song.

Ure is hoping for a recording session on a Sunday in the first half of November to get the single released in early December - in time to propel it to the Christmas number one spot.

Bookmakers have already stopped taking bets on it topping the festive chart because it is already a "virtual certainty" to be the best-seller.

Beverley Knight said the project was "bigger than me, bigger than my ego, bigger than any of the individuals that are involved".

Band Aid

She said the issues of poverty and famine in Africa had to be conveyed to a new generation. She remembers being a big fan of the original single as an 11-year-old.

"To think 20 years later, I'm going to be involved in that same project because the problem has not gone away is harrowing to say the least," she said.

The issue has also been highlighted by an exhibition of photographs taken in Ethiopia in 1984 and 2004 by Carlos Reyes-Manzo, commissioned by Save the Children.

The display, at the Bargehouse on London's South Bank, was launched on Thursday.

Save the Children director general Mike Aaronson said Ethiopia has had a lot of emergency assistance but "precious little long-term development and assistance".

HAVE YOUR SAY
It was a great song first time round and I hope it will be this time as well
Ed, London UK

"We really can't let this slow decline continue," he said. "So it's really tremendous that the music industry is on the case again, and let's hope that leads to another huge public mobilisation.

"But really what needs to happen this time is if we have another Band Aid, it mustn't stop at a Band Aid - it really has to turn into a bandwagon.

"And it has to be a bandwagon that's going to roll for Africa and put an end to the injustice and poverty that we see there."

After the first Band Aid came Live Aid, the transatlantic concert that brought the cream of the world's music celebrities together, in July 1985.

It is being released on DVD for the first time on 8 November to raise more money for charity, with one million copies produced in anticipation of huge Christmas demand.

The Band Aid Trust, the charity that administers all funds raised by Band Aid and Live Aid activities, has distributed $144m (79m) for famine relief in countries like Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea and Ethiopia since 1985.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Organiser Midge Ure outlines details of the project



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