Canadian artists join in Wavin' Flag for Haiti

A remixed version of K'naan's anthem Wavin' Flag that will be available for download Thursday at midnight pulls together 57 Canadian artists in a fundraiser for Haiti.

A remixed version of K'naan's anthem Wavin' Flag that will be available for download Thursday at midnight pulls together 57 Canadian artists in a fundraiser for Haiti.

Artists such as Avril Lavigne, Drake, Sam Roberts and Nelly Furtado rushed to help after a group of artists and record executives launched the initiative in early February.

"When you listen to K'naan's song — and Drake does a rap in the middle which is exceptional — it is absolutely the perfect piece of lyric for this problem," says Randy Lennox, the president and CEO of Universal Music Canada, who helped pull together the charity single.

In an interview Thursday with CBC Radio's Q cultural affairs show, Lennox said the whole effort was pulled together in nine days by a team of artists and producers who contacted a pantheon of Canadian music performers.

"What happened was, we were watching the [reprise of] We Are the World in the United States the day after the Grammy awards, and the instinct was 'We want to do something as Canadians,'" Lennox said.

A version of We Are the World for Haiti was recorded in February in Los Angeles in response to the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12.

"For Haiti, no time like the present. At that point I went on YouTube and looked at Tears Are Not Enough and thought, 'do we recreate that song?'" he said.

Tears are Not Enough was a 1985 charity single by Canadian artists. Lennox said a group of artists, including K'naan brainstormed about having a "contemporary song that spoke explicitly to Haiti."

They settled on Wavin' Flag, the same song K'naan performed at the Canada for Haiti benefit Jan. 25.

Lennox said he is proud of the artists who stepped up to the plate for Wavin' Flag, including  Justin Bieber, Kardinal Offishall and Nikki Yanofsky.

"The moment of this song — watching these 57 artists come together in Vancouver — was unbelievable. A really rewarding moment for our history," he said.

The single will benefit Free the Children, War Child Canada and World Vision Canada.

The music video for the charity singer is being launched at midnight, and there will be musician interviews at  CBC.ca.

Lennox is to be honoured Friday with induction into the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame.

Lennox, who rose from the mailroom at Universal to become head of the company, said talent is not the only ingredient that goes into music stardom. He has worked with numerous Canadian success stories, but also seen genius artists who sell 25 albums, he said. 

"It happens because you are who you surround yourself with. It is a business at the end of the day. Genius artists who have the acumen to listen and understand the business connections end up winning on both sides," Lennox said.