Kenyan Blinky Bill among global artists joining UN Live’s Sounds Right initiative to generate nature conservation funding

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Blinky Bill Credit _ Zack Adell _ @iamzackadell (instagram)

By Zablon Oyugi

Kenyan music artist Blinky Bill is among renown global artists joining UN Live’s Sounds Right initiative that enables nature to generate conservation funding from her own sounds.

The Museum for the United NationsUN Live yesterday announced the launch of the campaign in New York, United States as a new global music initiative to help in this rallying call to help protect the mother nature.

Bill is joining the campaign from Kenya for the track OH WAH (feat. NATURE).

“It’s a big honor to be involved with this project. I’ve always been fascinated by the artistry of nature from when I was a kid – I remember being in the village and seeing Fireflies and being in awe of them and I don’t see them as much anymore. The full range of nature’s artistry must be protected and this is one of the ways I would like to be involved, plus it was really cool to have the sounds of birds singing and the ocean waves as the instrumentals in my track,” said Bill.

A diverse mix of global artists have joined Sounds Right, releasing new tracks or remixing hits to ‘Feat. NATURE’ by including sounds from the natural world.

Launched in the lead up to Earth Day, the initiative aims to spark a global conversation about the value of nature and support millions of music fans to take meaningful action to protect our planet.

With timeless classics such as ocean waves, wind, rainstorms and birdsong, nature has a long history of contributing to music. Now, “NATURE” will be recognised as an official artist with her own profile on major streaming platforms. By simply listening to music that features sounds of the natural world, fans will help to fund nature conservation and restoration projects in our most precious and precarious ecosystems.

“Sounds Right is a groundbreaking music movement. It unites people around the world in a shared commitment, recognizing the intrinsic value of nature. Together, we must act now to protect our planet for our common future,” said Melissa Fleming, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.

Diverse mix of global artists joins Sounds Right

A diverse mix of global artists have joined Sounds Right, releasing new tracks or remixing hits to ‘Feat. NATURE’ by including sounds from the natural world. Fans can also relax with ambient nature sounds – ecosystem recordings from The Listening Planet and VozTerra – with a significant portion of royalties directed to high-impact conservation initiatives.

From Colombia to India by way of Norway, Venezuela, Kenya, Denmark, UK, US and Indonesia, there is a truly global selection of artists taking part and highlighting natural sounds from a vast range of ecosystems all over the world. These include: David Bowie x Brian Eno, Ellie Goulding, AURORA, UMI with V of BTS, Anuv Jain, MØ, London Grammar, Bomba Estéreo, Cosmo Sheldrake,

Louis VI, Tom Walker, Aterciopelados, Blinky Bill, Navicula x Endah N Rhesa, and Los Amigos Invisibles.

Ellie Goulding’s “Brightest Blue – Nature Remix” uses sounds from the lush rainforests of Colombia recorded by VozTerra – from Speckled Chachalacas in Caquetá to the birdsong of Amazonian Oropendolas. Brian Eno brings a visceral aspect to his David Bowie collaboration “Get Real” with the harsh cries of hyenas, rooks and wild pigs, while Anuv Jain’s “Baarishein” features the sounds of Indian rains and Cosmo Sheldrake’s “Soil” is a homage to the powerful transformative and generative capacities of subterranean ecosystems. Louis VI collaborated with acoustic ecologist Martyn Stewart of Biophonica for “Orange Skies”, a track featuring Mick Jenkins and Jelani Blackman which focuses on the environmental destruction caused by forest fires, with sounds from the Borneo rainforest.

“The world is calling for us. And it has been for a really long time. We can feel deep inside of our very core, that something is wrong. Working with my friend FREDRIK on ‘A Soul With No King’ has mended something in me. I understand where my anger comes from. And what to do with it. And having Brian Eno do a remix of our baby has been a dream. He and I are so connected, it felt very right to do something together. For the Earth. From the Earth,” said AURORA.

Oh her part Cathy Runciman, Co-Executive Director, EarthPercent, said: “It’s been fantastic to see so many brilliant artists excited to engage creatively with the sounds of nature and supportive of Sounds Right’s core objective to see that nature is fairly compensated for her musical contributions. We know that many artists care deeply about protecting and restoring nature and it’s a privilege to launch these collaborations via the Feat. NATURE playlist and together generate positive impact for biodiversity.”

All the tracks can be enjoyed on the “Feat. NATURE” playlist on Spotify and the tracks can be found on major music streaming platforms.

Goal of the initiative

 The goal of this evergreen initiative is to activate fans, raise funds, spark a global conversation about how we value nature, and inspire a sense of agency in our collective efforts to protect the planet. Fans will be encouraged to take follow-up actions to conserve nature, such as recording morning birdsong for biomonitoring and adopting sustainable behaviors – all helping to build a wider movement for change. Sounds Right knowledge partners project that Sounds Right will generate over $40m for conservation with over 600m individual listeners in its first four years.

“Popular culture, like music, has the power to engage millions and millions of people, ignite positive global change at scale, and get us all on a more sustainable path. In a world where empathy is declining and many people often feel that their actions hardly matter, Sounds Right and UN Live meet people where they already are – on their screens and in their earbuds – with stories and formats they can relate to, and actions that matter to them. Recognising nature as the valuable artist it truly is will be a game changer,” said, Katja Iversen, CEO, Museum for the United Nations – UN Live.

The initiative comes at a critical time. Wildlife populations have declined by an average 69% in the past 50 years and at least 1.2 million plant and animal species are estimated to be at threat of extinction. Sounds Right looks to flip our extractive relationship with the natural world on its head while recognising nature’s contribution to the creative industries.

NATURE’s music royalties

NATURE’s royalties and donations to Sounds Right will be collected by UK and US registered charity EarthPercent, then directed to biodiversity conservation and restoration projects in threatened ecosystems around the world. Funds will be distributed under the guidance of the Sounds Right Expert Advisory Panel, a group of world-leading biologists, environmental activists, representatives of Indigenous Peoples, and experts in conservation funding.

“Biocultural heritage will greatly benefit from music royalties and donations. In a way, it is about paying back to life systems that have inspired the human spirit through the magic of sound. The time has come to live in permanent reciprocity,” said Mindahi Bastida, Otomi-Toltec Leader, and Sounds Right Expert Advisory Panel Member.

Sounds Right is the culmination of a unique collaboration between global artists, nature sound libraries, renowned producers, creatives, and environmental groups who want to put music at the heart of a global conversation about nature’s conservation and restoration.

“Action at scale is crucial to address the global biodiversity crisis. That’s why the Hempel Foundation seeks to help organizations accelerate their impact. We have partnered with UN Live almost from day one and supported the development of the Sounds Right initiative. It has the potential to significantly accelerate both public engagement for nature and the financial resources available for biodiversity conservation,” said Anders Holm, CEO, The Hempel Foundation.

The initiative was developed by the Museum for the United Nations – UN Live in close collaboration with a unique coalition of partners including EarthPercent, AKQA, Hempel Foundation, Dalberg, Count Us In, VozTerra, Axum, Music Declares Emergency, Earthrise, Eleutheria Group, The Listening Planet, Biophonica, Community Arts Network, Limbo Music, LD Communications, No. 29, and Rare. Spotify is supporting Sounds Right through a charitable donation to the Sounds Right fund managed by EarthPercent and by promoting the campaign through its app, OOH media and social channels to aid nature conservation. Sounds Right has been developed in consultation with the UN Department for Communications, and is joining forces with The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, APCO, Riky Rick Foundation and AWorld x ActNow to encourage millions of music fans around the globe to recognise the value of nature and to inspire them to take action.

Nicolai Smith, Executive Creative Director, AKQA, said: “It has been an honor to have been an integral part of establishing Sounds Right and introducing NATURE as an artist to the world. From storytelling to designing the visual identity and launching the global campaign, Sounds Right is a project that we at AKQA truly believe in. It has the power to do good for good. By continuously working with global artists to credit NATURE in their music, everyone around the world can help fund nature conservation by simply doing what they already do every day: listen to their favourite artists and tracks crediting NATURE.”