Let’s face it: These are unprecedented and scary times we’re living in. The global pandemic has been raging for months now as we’ve struggled to get a handle on a very slippery virus. During these uncertain days the one thing that we can all agree upon is that we need to love and protect ourselves and our fellow man; the sun will shine again, the birds will sing. There is a light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel.
One of the heroes lighting the way for all of us is Oscar winning singer-songwriter Franke Previte. With his revived and re-recorded for charity hit song One World serving as both a beacon and a clarion call, this legendary artist is fighting for those most impacted by the pandemic.
Vents had the distinct pleasure to recently quiz Franke on what exactly One World means to him right now and what exactly we all can do to join him in this very personal struggle.
Vents: Hi Franke, and welcome back to Vents Magazine! Before we get started, how have you been during these tumultuous times?
Franke Previte: I’m doing very well; working my butt off to try and help my fellow Musicians, Actors, Children of First Reponder’s and fighting for social justice with the NAACP LDF. It’s a heartfelt ride I really enjoy doing.
Vents: Congratulations on One World which is not only an amazing song but it’s also a song that is making a difference in people’s lives. What’s the backstory on One World and how do you feel about its revival?
FP: I am hoping that the song One World can be the spark that ignites hope back into our world on the other side of normal. The song was written in Moscow, Russia by myself, Pamela Phillips Oland and two Estonian songwriters, Sergei Manoukyan and Mikk Targo on a songwriting summit to Moscow with 24 other well know songwriters… BMI and Columbia Records arranged the summit back in 1988. I was lucky to be chosen.
After the summit, One World was than recorded by Earth Wind and Fire but, unfortunately Columbia Records dropped the ball and the project just faded away. But, for me the memories lived on and while doing an interview on a radio station, I was asked ‘just how is this Pandemic affecting you and all the American songwriters?’ That’s when it hit me, I said, “Not only American songwriters but the whole world. With this pandemic affecting all of us, we are all officially living in one world.’ And that’s when a light bulb went off and, I flashed back to that songwriting summit and realized I had a tool that might help spark some hope back into all of us. So I called Pamela Oland one of the other American writers and we started the process of re- recording the song and decided to use it to help heal others.
Vents: How did it feel to be re-team with one of your co-writers for One World, Pamela Phillips Oland?
FP: I knew when I connected with Pamela Oland and asked her to join me and she said, “YES! Let’s do this” we were on the path to creating a new version of One World. Pamela was friends with Jon Gilutin, writer of the Patti Labelle’s hit New Attitude; Jon immediately starting building the new track and producing the song. Jon called on many of his friends to join in… Grammy winning and nominated singers and musicians were stepping up to help create the song. We now call them Voices 4 One World. On lead vocals in order of performance: Michael Mayo, Renee Martin, Ellis Hall, Dorian Holley, Judith Glory Hill. On backgrounds: Valerie Pinkston, Amy Keys, Lisa Sherman, Christine Collister. Musicians include; Jon Gilutin, Keyboards, Lenny Castro, Brendan Buckley, Scott Mayo, Jerry Watts Jr, James Harrah, Randy Jacobs, Tollak Ollestad and mixed by two-time Grammy winner Bill Schnee (Steely Dan & many others)
(Vents Note: Please check out Franke’s website for all of the performer’s bios and to see how you can help those less fortunate during these uncertain times. https://www.oneworldoursong.com)
Vents: What was it like working with Grammy winning producer Jon Gilutin and multi-Grammy and Emmy Award winning engineer Bill Schnee on this new iteration of One World?
FP: Bill Schnee was a long-time friend starting when he produced the band I was in called Franke and The Knockouts. It was really an honor having Bill on our team. For me there’s no one better.
Jon Gilutin was a consummate pro. He knows exactly what he wants and knows how to get it. Jon was thrilled when I told him Bill Schnee would like to mix the song.
Vents: Some serious powerhouse talent contributed to this retooled One World: Michael Mayo, Ronee Martin, Ellis Hall, Dorian Holley, Judith Glor Hill, Valerie Pinkston, Amy Keys, Christine Collister, Jon Gilutin, Lenny Castro, Brendan Buckley, Scott Mayo, Jerry Watts Jr., James Harrah, Randy Jacobs, Tollack Ollestad and Lisa Sherman. How did it feel for you personally to have these amazing talents step up and contribute to this incredible project?
FP: Having the talent that stepped up to contribute Pro Bono was a true testament to the brotherhood and bond musicians and singers have with each other. I was totally blown away when Jon told me who he had gotten to perform on the track. When you hear the song you’ll understand what I’m saying.
Vents: Are you surprised by the positive reaction in 2020 the song has garnered? It seems to have discovered a newfound resonance with people.
FP: Music speaks louder than words. When it touches you and hits the right chord people will usually respond in a positive way and that’s what’s happening with One World. We are blessed in creating a song that could become our anthem to help heal and to get through these hard times. That’s why we’re donating 100% of all the proceeds from your donations to four very important charities. The Musicians Foundation, The Actors Fund, The First Responders Children’s Foundation and The LDF for Social Justice. Each one of these charities for me hits a true chord and can help bring harmony back into all our lives on the other side of normal.
Vents: Can you share with Vents readers a rather memorable moment that you had on a Russian train?
FP: While on the Russian summit after nine days we had finished writing and were on a midnight train to Leningrad. Well, about 3:00 O’clock in the morning the train was stopped and the Russian military wanted to see everyone’s passports. Of course mine was in the baggage car about 10 cars down the train. They pulled me off the train into 3 feet of snow and, marched me down to the baggage car and threw me in. They shouted “Find your papers!” With about three hundred bags to look through I finally found my bag and was carted back to my berth. An experience I’ll never forget.
Vents: Going forward, how do you think the music industry will be affected by the global pandemic?
FP: Life in general will be different for just about everyone. We will just have to adjust to the new normal. Until there’s a vaccine, crowds in theaters, restaurants, sporting areas will be smaller, which means less pay for the same amount of work you were doing before the pandemic. It’s a truly a Darwin theory (The strong will survive). That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing with One World; hopefully the song can help people survive these hard times.
Vents: You’re involved in a fascinating project wherein you create a custom-made video for pop-up drive-in’s featuring Dirty Dancing. How did this become a reality?
FP: Not being a record company and having to rely on friends and contacts you have to think outside of the box. So, I’ve been working with an old friend Ken Franklin from the Franke and the Knockouts days. Ken was researching all the new start up drive-in theaters that are popping up, due to social distancing caused by the Pandemic and we thought that doing a video PSA before the film played would bring awareness to the song. Having a lot of these drive-ins showing the Dirty Dancing film was a no brainier, being the co-writer of (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life and Hungry Eyes it’s a perfect fit.
Vents: What’s coming up for you in the future? Can you give readers a hint of any new projects you may have on the way?
FP: To tell you the truth as far as a new project goes, I’ll be promoting this song One World until it’s safe to come out and play again… Merry Christmas Everybody is my Toys for Tots anthem. Hope we’re out of the woods by then.