Patti Smith has gathered an all-star group of singers from around the world — including Michael Stipe, Joan Baez, Ben Harper, Tenzin Choegyal, Cyndi Lauper and Angelique Kidjo — for a cover of “People Have the Power” to ure people to vote.
The punk godmother organized the socially distanced video — and released it on National Voter Registration Day (Sept. 22) — in coordination with Pathway to Paris, the nonprofit founded by Smith’s daughter (musician Jesse Paris Smith) to find innovative solutions to combat global climate change. The clip is also part of the celebration of the sixth anniversary of the group and the kick-off of Climate Week NY 2020 (Sept. 21-27).
Also joining the Smiths in the moving eight-minute video for the song written by the singer and late husband Fred “Sonic” Smith for Patti’s 1988 album Dream of Life are skateboarder Tony Hawk, designer Stella McCartney, environmentalists Bill McKibben and Dr. Vandana Shiva, Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, musician/actor Chris Stills, Italian singer/actor Giovanni Caccamo, Smith’s longtime bandmate guitarist Lenny Kaye, musician Micah Nelson, Strokes bassist Nikolai Fraiture, Italian rocker Manuel Agnelli, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, French singer Zazie, actress/singer Rain Phoenix and many more.
Pathway to Paris is encouraging Americans to make sure they are ready to vote in the crucial Nov. 3 presidential election, especially in light of the Trump administration’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord and its push to expedite major fossil fuel projects during the pandemic.
“This is the simple notion of the video: ‘VOTE.’ A call for Americans to vote in November, and for everyone in the world to vote in their own local elections, whenever they may be,” the group captioned the music video on Instagram. “Vote often and everywhere; in your country, in your state, in your city, in your neighborhood, in your school. Vote to choose something, vote to reject something. The notion to ‘vote’ is the plea to exercise your right to ‘use your voice’.”
“Have the difficult discussions, have the hopeful discussions, and ‘vote like your life depends on it, because it does,'” Pathway to Paris added. “This coming election serves as an enormous opportunity to help move the Paris Agreement into action.”
The video features participants from 25 countries in 46 cities on six continents, including athletes, students, activists, artists, mayors and writers. According to a statement from Pathway to Paris, “Both Patti and Jesse Paris Smith have often noted the history and intention of the chosen song (written and recorded in 1987 when Patti was pregnant with Jesse, and released in 1988 on the album, Dream of Life.). Fred Sonic Smith envisioned an anthem for the world, a clarion call for anyone who might need it, hoping for the song to serve as a unifying aid and amplifier for protest movements, political campaigns, and more. Though he did not live long enough to see this happen, his family has been continuously and deeply moved watching his dream come to fruition, perhaps long surpassing his expectations as the song grows in its usage around the world.”
Watch the “People Have the Power” video below.