United Nations Assignment: Create "We Are the World" for Women (When You're Not Quincy Jones)

Reprinted from Beth Blatt's Huffington Post blog...

In November of 2010, I learned from my friend Evelyn that UNIFEM, where she worked, was morphing into a brand-new entity -- UN Women -- which would be the umbrella for the UN's other women's agencies.

Before I could think, I blurted out, "They need a theme song." (My social enterprise, Hope Sings, is in the business of creating music to support causes that support women).

And three (very) short months later, they had one. Graham Lyle ("What's Love Got To Do With It" and many other hits) and British/Somalian singer-songwriter Clay composed the music, and I wrote the lyrics, based on stories of women whom UNIFEM/UN Women had helped.

"One Woman" was the grand finale at the launch ceremony in the UN General Assembly Hall, where 1800 guests stood and sang along with the reprise (it's a pretty catchy song).

Over the next few days, requests poured in from UN offices around the world to perform the song in honor of International Women's Day. Frankly, we weren't ready for that kind of reception. We didn't have sheet music, didn't have a demo, didn't have a karaoke track -- nada.

After that, we all knew we wanted to produce the song, and produce it big. The vision was a veritable United Nations of international female singing stars -- a sort of "We Are The World" for women. We'd get Quincy Jones on board, Peter Gabriel, Shakira -- she's tight with the UN (even if it is UNICEF) and personal friends with Michelle Bachelet, the Exec. Dir. of UNW and former president of Chile.

And then, a few weeks back, UN Women said they had the money to produce the song.

So... how exactly do you make a "We Are The World" for women happen -- when you're not Quincy Jones?

That's what I plan to share in this blog.

We have a mind-boggling Wish List of women from every continent. Singers, producers, instrumentalists, even non-singers -- humanitarians, politicians, businesswomen. The list runs to six pages, from Beyonce to Esperanza Spalding to the 13 Grandmothers to Michelle O. and the girls.

There are men, too -- because they are part of the equation, both in the song and in the world.

We also want women from villages all over the world to sing along on the refrain of the song, "We Shall Shine." No idea how to make that happen. But we will.

And of course, we need video. Not just your basic 3-minute music video, but also the "Making Of" video-mentary. Mind you, UN Women doesn't have budget for that. Translation: we need to find a sponsor.

All by March 8, 2012 -- the next International Women's Day, when we have agreed we'll launch the song (on the Today show. Of course. Though they don't know that yet. Unless they're reading this now.)

This blog is a few things.

This blog is my stake in the sand. Your eyeballs make us accountable. Please smile when we soar (or post a comment). Please offer Kleenex when we crash and burn (or post a comment).

This blog is my publicist. Who knows, maybe some of the women on my six-page list will read this and email me. Maybe even a sponsor will email me. One item less on my to-do list.

This blog is also, I'm hoping, a way to inspire others to blurt out things like, "They need a theme song." And then make it happen.

This blog is also (and I swear, after this one, I'm done) a way to share our learning so you don't have to reinvent the wheel. How do you work with a behemoth like the UN? How do you get through to Beyonce? How do you decide which celebrity to call first? Why are celebrities so powerful, anyway? How exactly do you do a global simulcast? I hope I don't lose my nerve to tell it like it happens, hiccups and all. "Tune in" to see.

So, welcome. On my to-do list for next week: finding a way to get to Alicia Keys, our first choice to produce the song.

Beth Blatt is the founder of Hope Sings, a social enterprise dedicated to harnessing the power of song and story to empower, inspire and connect women around the world. Hope Sings was selected by UN Women to create the agency's theme song for their launch in February 2011, and to produce and release the song in time for International Women's Day, March 8, 2012.