NEW YORK – Yoko Ono joined an international cast of musicians and other artists on Thursday at the United Nations to kick off a project using one of John Lennon’s best-known songs to highlight the plight of children denied rights.
The song, “Imagine,” calls for the abolition of possessions, war, and, more controversially, faith in God, and was chosen as a way to mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
“Today we celebrate the wonderful progress that has been achieved over these last 25 years, but we also need to recall all the millions of children around the world that we have not reached, those for whom life is not better,” Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director, told a packed audience at the General Assembly hall. UNICEF is the U.N.’s children’s agency.
Called #Imagine, the project allows anyone to download an app through TouchCast, a facility currently available on iPads, and record their own version of the song.
The aim is to compile as many voices as possible into a multilingual version to be released in the run-up to New Year’s Eve next month. It is billed as the largest singalong in history.
Yoko Ono, who took the stage with Lake and Hollywood star Hugh Jackman, made brief remarks and spoke about creating a “beautiful future” with today’s children.
“I would like to say: Think peace, act peace and spread peace and imagine peace,” she told the enthusiastic crowd.
“The whole project started with Yoko coming to the U.N. and saying that the world is a dark place right now and she felt the song was needed to bring more light to the world,” said Edo Segal, CEO of TouchCast.
Grammy award-winning singer Angelique Kidjo, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador from Benin, spoke of the transformative value of music and the timelessness of Lennon’s lyrics.
“It is important that Yoko was here today and she allowed UNICEF to have access to that song to impact not only the lives of the children in the rich countries but also to the people of my continent because that song is known in Africa,” she said.