Earlier this month, we profiled the Demos for a Difference project, an Asbury Park, NJ charity that put out a call for artists to submit demos for a compilation album featuring benefiting the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The album is set for release this Friday, July 3rd exclusively on Bandcamp. In addition to the Demos team donating 100% of its proceeds, the release falls on the same day Bandcamp waives its revenue share of all albums sold on the platform that day.
The Demos for a Difference project was conceived in the wake of national protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. The project organizers challenged artists ‘to let their art go out into the world unvarnished, unedited, and incomplete by contributing a demo version of an original piece.’
Over 160 artists responded to the call, sending everything from spoken-word poetry to standup comedy to hip-hop, R&B, rock, folk, and other songs from every genre. While the project was originally focused on New Jersey, it quickly moved beyond the state’s boundaries to include artists from throughout the U.S. and as far around the world as Italy.
A quick scan of the 160-song track list shows plenty of familiar Asbury Park artists, including Dentist, Jerzy Jung, Levy & The Oaks, Joshua Van Ness, Martin Howth, Blaise and David Ross Lawn, Dave Vargo, Tara Dente, Stelle Mrowicki, The Foes of Fern, Tommy Strazza, Marc Tappan and Bobby Mahoney.
“Art is what artists have to give to the world. And when we come together, we are far more than the sum of our parts. That’s why Demos for a Difference was created — to take what we have and use our collective power to put it to use in the fight for true equality in the United States and around the world,” said Brian Erickson, organizer of Demos for a Difference and an Asbury Park, NJ-based musician who performs as a solo artist and with his band The Extensions. “The NAACP has been fighting for fair, just, and equal treatment of Black people in America for over 80 years. I hope this project will help them continue elevating Black voices.”
“I’m very honored to be a part of this project. So many great artists are involved, and the movement behind this project is something personal to me as a Black man,” said Will Blakey, a musician who contributed to the compilation album as a member of the Bryan Hansen Band. “Too many people of color aren’t properly represented by the law. This partnership with the NAACP looks to make sure that things like that don’t continue to happen.”
“This isn’t just an African-American problem, this is a human problem,” said KL Martin, CEO of artist management firm 3143 Management and a contributor to the compilation as a standup comedian. “To watch one group of individuals based on the color of their skin be mistreated for an extended period of time is outright wrong. And while I’m not saying that this project will suddenly make that go away or lessen the effects, it is a start in the right direction by bringing musicians, poets, and everything in between together under what I consider ‘the great uniter’ — ART.”
“For me, the timing was uncanny,” said Joshua Van Ness, who contributed the song “The Brightest Star” featuring Mike Sarge. “I wrote this song and the very next day I was approached about this project. Being a part of our community coming together for equality is really special.”
All artists who contributed to the Demos for a Difference compilation album were not asked to sign over any exclusivity and are free to use their tracks however they please. The album will be available to purchase as a digital download for $10 with the option to contribute more at http://demosforadifference.bandcamp.com.
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