Sting, Korn's Jonathan Davis, System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, Angelique Kidjo, Yes' Jon Anderson, actor Robert Downey, Jr., and the late Jim Morrison are all part of "Prayer Cycle 2: Path to Zero," a benefit for the anti-nuclear organization Global Zero.
The seven-song set, due out May 10, was written, produced and coordinated by composer Jonathan Elias as a sequel to his 1999 release "The Prayer Cycle." Like that, "Path to Zero" is "a little prayer based on having kids these days," Elias tells Billboard.com. "I think we're a little on the dark side at times, and it doesn't take much to really think about, how unless we really gain some consciousness, we really are heading into uncharted waters."
The new collection's anti-nuclear focus "relates to my sort of prayer for continuation for my kids as it relates to the world today," says Elias, who has a 10-year-old son, Jack, and a daughter, Lilli, the latter of whom sings on "Path to Zero."
Elias spent nearly five years working on the project, a stylistically mixed and world-flavored bag that also features Richard Bona, Salif Keita, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Iroquois singer Joanne Shenandoah. He'd become friendly with Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, while working on the 2006 film "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" and even got Styler to join Sting and Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan on the opening track, "Atomic Mother." "When Trudie heard the stuff I did with her voice," Elias recalls, "she was like, 'Oh my goodness!,' smiling and all excited about it."
Jon Anderson has been a friend since Elias produced Yes' 1991 album "Union," and his association with Downey dates back to 2004's "The Futurist." O'Connor came via a mutual friend, while the recording of Morrison reciting poetry during "Fallout" -- which also features O'Connor, Tankian and Downey -- came via a friendship with longtime Doors producer Paul Rothchild. "I went to the family through their attorneys and told them about this project, and they agreed to license it," Elias says. "Being a Jim Morrison fan, I was pretty excited about it.
Elias had originally planned to title "Prayer Cycle 2" "A Thousand Suns," but had to change it when rockers Linkin Park used that for their recently released fourth album. "We had the artwork figured out and then they came along, so damn Linkin Park," Elias says with a laugh. "What's also funny is I almost worked with Chester [Bennington] on this. Jonathan Davis and he are friends and Jonathan told him about the project. He really liked it but we just couldn't get it together."
Elias is currently working with Global Zero, which is dedicated to worldwide nuclear disarmament, on "some sort of visual representation" that will accompany "Path to Zero's" release.
In addition to "Path to Zero," Elias recently finished scoring "Son of No One," a drama directed by Dito Montiel and starring Al Pacino and Channing Tatum. He's in the midst of working on several ads for Super Bowl XLV, including spots for Chevrolet, Audi, Budweiser and Comcast, and is also working on an album for "Path to Zero" contributor Yunghen Lhamo.
Here is the track list for "Prayer Cycle 2: Path to Zero":
"Atomic Mother" -- Sting, Trudie Styler, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
"Trinity" -- Jonathan Davis, Salif Keita, Hakim
"Deliverance" -- Angelique Kidjo, Richard Bona, Yunghen Lhamo
"Devotion" -- Jon Anderson, Richard Bona, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Dadawa
"Fallout" -- Serj Tankian, Sinead O'Connor, Robert Downey, Jr., Jim Morrison
"Awakening" -- the American Boys Choir
"Many Suns" -- Alex Ebert (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros), Joanne Shenandoah, Lilli Elias