Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

Here’s our toast to freedom,
To human rights and dignity,
Love, respect and forgiveness,
United in the dream for victory.”

Toast to Freedom is a music video dedicated to human rights activism around the world. Nearly 50 artists contributed to the video, celebrating Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary. The basic tracks for Toast to Freedom were recorded at the legendary Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y. One of the last studio recordings by the late Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Levon Helm, it was also one of the closest to his heart.

The song continues a long relationship between Amnesty International and the creative community, which has helped spread the word of its mission almost from the start in 1961. Artists contributing to Toast to Freedom included: Levon Helm, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Angelique Kidjo, Ewan McGregor, Saul Hernandez, Donald Fagen, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Eric Burdon, Taj Mahal, Florent Pagny, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Birkin, Jimmy Barnes, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Mullins, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Gentleman, among others.

Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

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The Making of “Toast to Freedom”

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Toast to Freedom (Long Version)

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Legendary Levon Helm, Drummer and Singer of The Band, Dead at 71

Legendary Levon Helm, Drummer and Singer of The Band, Dead at 71

Levon Helm, legendary singer and drummer for the acclaimed and influential rock group The Band, died on Thursday, April 19th in New York City of throat cancer. He was 71. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his friends and bandmates. A very sad note signed by his daughter and wife had appeared Tuesday on the official website for multiple Grammy winner Levon Helm:  “Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer,” said the note. “Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration…he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage.”

Levon Helm had reached the final stages of his battle with cancer, which was first diagnosed in the late 1990s. He recovered, but it took him many years to recover his singing voice. At last Saturday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland, former Band guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson told the audience, “We all need to send out love and prayers to my Band mate Levon Helm.”

Mr. Helm, a native of Arkansas whose father was a cotton farmer, was an important member of The Band, lending his steady beat and weathered voice to the group’s signature hit songs, such as: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Weight, Rag Mama Rag and Daniel and the Sacred Harp. The Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Read more about Levon Helm’s death in Rolling Stone here and in the New York Times here.

Listen to Levon Helm’s Finest Moments: From The Weight to Atlantic City. Eighteen tracks from The Band co-founder’s incredible career: The Rolling Stone Playlist

View the Slide Show: Levon Helm Through the Years here.

View another Slide Show: Levon Helm’s Musical Journey here.

Levon Helm and The Band: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (1969)

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

Levon Helm and The Band: The Weight (Woodstock 1969)

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The Band with The Staple Singers: The Weight (From “The Last Waltz” 1978)

Levon Helm’s Life After Cancer

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A Tribute: For Levon Helm, With Prayers and Love

A Tribute: For Levon Helm, With Prayers and Love

A very sad note signed by his daughter and wife appeared yesterday on the official website for multiple Grammy winner Levon Helm, the drummer-singer of the acclaimed and influential rock group, the Band. “Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer,” says the note. “Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration…he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage.”

Levon Helm, the drummer and singer with the Band, has reached the final stages of his battle with cancer, which was first diagnosed in the late 1990s. He recovered, but it took him many years to recover his singing voice. At Saturday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland, former Band guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson told the audience, “We all need to send out love and prayers to my Band mate Levon Helm.”

Mr. Helm, a native of Arkansas whose father was a cotton farmer, was an important member of the Band, lending his steady beat and weathered voice to the group’s signature hit songs, such as: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Weight, Rag Mama Rag and Daniel and the Sacred Harp. The Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Update: Levon Helm, legendary singer and drummer for the Band, died on Thursday, April 19th in New York of throat cancer. He was 71. Read more here.

Listen to Levon Helm’s Finest Moments: From The Weight to Atlantic City. Eighteen tracks from the Band co-founder’s incredible career: The Rolling Stone Playlist

View the Slide Show: Levon Helm Through the Years here.

View another Slide Show: Levon Helm’s Musical Journey here.

Levon Helm and The Band: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (1969)

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

Levon Helm and The Band: The Weight (Woodstock 1969)

(Best Viewed in HD-Mode]

Levon Helm’s Life After Cancer

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Decades of Musical History: A Tribute to Legendary Musicians

Sly Stone with Reel-to-Reel Tape Player

Johnny Cash Deep in Thought

Most of the photographs of the legendary musicians in this video, representing decades of musical history, might be familiar to a number of music fans: Johnny Cash deep in thought in 1959, Bob Dylan sitting at a piano wearing his Ray-Ban sunglasses in 1965.  Others have rarely been seen, including the 1973 picture of Sly Stone in front of a tape player and the dramatic 1963 photograph of Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, recording his spoken-word album I Am the Greatest! Photographs of other major musicians that are included in this music video include pictures of Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the late folk-singer Steve Goodman, Willie Nelson and many others.

The music accompanying the video is The Band’s Tears of Rage.

Decades of Musical History: A Tribute to Legendary Musicians

Music by The Band: Tears of Rage

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