Local Producer Creates AIDS Education Campaign

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Winnipeg producer Darcy Ataman has been working for years to produce a song that follows in the “We Are the World” tradition and helps to educate Canadian youth about the AIDS crisis in Africa. It has finally happened. He has put together a video featuring some of Canada's top artists including Ian Thornley, Danny Greaves (The Watchmen), Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar, Grady), Kyle Riabko, Ian D'Sa (Billy Talent), Choclair, Easily Amused and many more for "Song for Africa."

Ataman came up with the idea several years ago, but it was only in the last year that the project really started to take shape. After the 2005 JUNO Awards in Winnipeg, Ataman met with then Prime Minister Paul Martin in Ottawa. “I decided I wasn't going to get many more opportunities like this so I opened my big mouth,” explains Ataman. “I literally cornered then Minister of International Cooperation Aileen Carroll in the hallway of Parliament and said we have to do something to educate Canadian youth on AIDS in Africa. I told her about my idea and she put me onto the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and after a year of daily hard work, here I am”

Ataman successfully gathered a list of prominent artists to participate and headed to Scarborough’s Phase One Studios to record the song, co-written by Rob Wells, Luke McMaster, Simon Wilcox and Ataman.

Ataman’s goal for the project is two-fold: to generate awareness among Canadian youth to find solutions to the AIDS pandemic in Africa; and to generate funds from the project to benefit project partner CARE Canada, and finance a mobile AIDS clinic in Kenya, built with the help of Free the Children.

“My father and grandmother were holocaust survivors. Their experiences were my bedtime stories growing up and something like that is really hard to shake,” says Ataman of his motivation to start the project. “It just doesn't leave you. Years ago an alternative news sites I started seeing stats on what was happening over there and I started to see the similarities between the two. I've been educating myself and getting further involved in the cause ever since.”

The video will make its debut during the opening ceremonies of the International AIDS Conference on August 13 at Toronto's Skydome in front of approximately 30,000 people. The song itself will be released to the public on July 28. The public can already make donations to the fundraising effort to build a mobile AIDS clinic in Kenya by visiting www.songforafrica.com.

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