Thoughts and Prayers|

Photo: Neev Rastegar | By Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo Music | The Hanson brother, father of seven, and For Women Life Freedom co-founder has gathered 16,000 voices — each representing a political prisoner in Iran — for a new version of Shervin Hajipour’s Grammy-winning protest anthem, “Baraye.”

Seven months ago during Grammy week, when every pop star was in Los Angeles, Taylor Hanson, the middle brother of pop-rock trio Hanson and a co-founder of For Women Life Freedom (FWLF), was working the party circuit — but not in the way one might expect. The musician and activist was in town recruiting singers for a passion project, dubbed the Voices Project, that he was organizing that week at the world-famous Jim Henson Studios: a new all-star recording of Iranian singer-songwriter’s Shervin Hajipour’s viral protest anthem, “Baraye.”

Hajipour had created the original “Baraye” on his iPhone in response to the shocking September 2022 story of Jina Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who had died in a Tehran hospital under suspicious circumstances after being arrested for allegedly not wearing the hijab in accordance with government standards. Hajipour himself was later arrested by the Iranian government over his song. For Women Life Freedom — a 501c3 non-profit committed to advocating for women’s equal rights as well as for a free and civil society for all Iranians — was launched in an attempt to save Hajipour’s life, as the organization campaigned to secure a nomination for “Baraye” in a brand-new Grammy Special Merit Award category called Song for Social Change.

On Feb. 3, 2023, Taylor’s Voices Project began gathering more 16,000 voices, each representing a peaceful political prisoner currently jailed in Iran, eventually setting a world record for the most voices on a single musical recording. Hundreds of people unison-sang in shifts at Henson Studios that day or digitally submitted their vocal tracks from all around the word, and some of the more famous voices included Rufus Wainwright, Ben Folds, Glee stars Darren Criss and Kevin McHale, Cassadee Pope, Ryan Cabrera, Leila Frouhar, Hamid Saeedi (who is also on FWLF’s board of directors), Shahbal Shapareh, film director Gus Van Sant, and producer Mark Hudson. And the day after the Voices Project’s marathon Henson recording session, the original “Baraye” actually won the inaugural Song for Social Change award, which was virtually presented to Hajipour by first lady Dr. Jill Biden during the Grammys ceremony.

Now, to coincide with the anniversary of Amini’s death and the global protests that followed, the Voices Project’s all-star version, “Baraye – Women Life Freedom,” is finally being released to, as Taylor puts it, “help elevate the continued resonance of this movement, which frankly has had a hard time cutting through the noise of so many different global challenges and issues.” Proceeds from the track will go to FWLF’s “efforts to partner and work with other artists that are amplifying the awareness of this cause.”
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Go here to read the rest of the story & interview, and to watch several videos:

Photo: Neev Rastegar, 3-year-old singer with the Voices Project. (Jonathan Weiner/Courtesy FWLF)

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