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Stars Voice Their Support of Gulf Forces

February 06, 1991|CHUCK PHILIPS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A star-studded chorus of film, music and sports celebrities--including Meryl Streep, Kevin Costner and Garth Brooks--are expected to assemble in Los Angeles on Sunday to record a musical tribute to the allied forces fighting in the Persian Gulf.

"Voices That Care," the brainchild of composer David Foster and lyricist Linda Thompson Jenner, will feature performances by at least three dozen participants including Little Richard, Mark Knopfler, David Crosby, Wayne Gretzky, Dick Van Dyke, Julio Iglesias, Michael Bolton, Peter Max, Warrant and the Beach Boys. Foster said Paul McCartney is also considering adding a vocal line from England.

The apolitical anthem was written to boost morale in the trenches and offer families of military personnel emotional support in their hour of need, the songwriters said. Celebrities participating in Sunday's marathon recording session have been advised to check their political agendas at the door.

"This isn't a hawk or a dove kind of thing," said Jenner, who has written songs with her fiance Foster for such pop figures as Kenny Rogers and Natalie Cole. "It's a gesture of love to show empathy for our soldiers. It's a way to express our gratitude to the courageous men and women who are out there on the battlefield laying their lives on the line for our freedom."

"It's a Valentine for the troops," Foster added. "To let them know that this time around their efforts will not be forsaken."

Foster, a Canadian who co-wrote the melody to the tune with singer Peter Cetera, is no stranger to nonprofit causes. Along with Bryan Adams, he supervised Canada's 1985 famine-relief effort "Tears Are Not Enough."

The 40-year-old composer said he hoped "Voices" would help bolster compassion at home for the individual struggle each soldier faces during the Gulf crisis.

"We don't want to see history repeat itself," Foster said. "During Vietnam, the entire nation turned their back on the veterans. We're not talking about whether you believe in the cause or not here, we're talking about living, breathing individuals out there just doing their job."

Inspired by a patriotic Boeing television commercial, Jenner composed the lyrics to "Voices" in less than an hour on Jan. 19.

Sample lines from the chorus:

Stand tall! Stand proud!

Voices that care are crying out loud.

And when you close your eyes tonight ,

Feel in your heart how our love burns bright.

Within a week, Foster had cut new instrumental tracks, string arrangements and recorded a complementary background choir for the tune. Vocals from the three dozen entertainers participating in the project will be added to the mix on Sunday.

In a unusual move, Foster said cassette copies of the song will be distributed to soldiers in the Middle East by the USO before the tune's release on radio later this month.

Foster is negotiating a national distribution deal with a major record company to market the song and video to retail outlets before March. Profits from the song are earmarked for the USO and the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund.

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