The pop singer and mental health activist speaks about the journey of the song 'You Are Not Alone' and collaborating with like-minded artistes from different backgrounds to share the message of hope.
Fame taught me there are millions who feel alone, says singer-activist Meredith O’Connor
Mumbai - 17 Feb 2021 19:59 IST
International pop star and activist Meredith O’Connor recently premiered her star-studded mental-health-campaign single 'You Are Not Alone' with celebrities from around the world. She has partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise funds for the non-profit. Some of the biggest names from K-Pop, 'Bollywood', Afropop, and more, celebrities from all over the world, came together to raise funds for and increase awareness of mental health issues through the messaging of the song.
O’Connor spoke to Cinestaan.com via email about the journey of the song and getting the different artistes on board for the cause. Excerpts:
How did you select the singers?
I wanted to amplify the message that 'You Are Not Alone' by collaborating with artistes from different backgrounds with a shared message of hope. I started out working with other artistes and teams that liked my advocacy, and some of the incredible artistes on the song have done great work with their platforms as well. I wanted all of the voices on the song to show listeners that no matter where they are in the world, they are not alone, there is hope.
I'm honoured to have been able to work with some of the most prominent artistes from around the world who have also overcome many challenges.
Many of these singers have been involved in some kind of social work outside of their field. Was that one of the criteria for selection?
I used to feel like I was the only one who got bullied, and like I was the only one who battled OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] when I was 13. But fame taught me that there are millions of people who also feel alone, and also gave me the opportunity to connect with other like-minded artistes.
How did this idea of working with singers from around the world come about?
From all of the opportunities to travel that touring has given me, the main thing it taught me was how many people all over the world think they are alone in what they feel — bullying, anxiety, depression, whatever it is. But they aren't. I used to think I was alone when battling OCD and bullying at 13 years old, which was really scary. So once I had this platform, I wanted to be the role model that I wish I had growing up, hoping that it may help someone else avoid the same pain. I never could have imagined how many people would relate to what I was saying, and I wanted to show people from all over the world examples of hope and perseverance, My hope is that people from different parts of the world struggling with mental illness can feel hope and feel represented in some way because of the artistes involved.
How did Asees Kaur get involved with the project?
I became especially fascinated by music and culture from multiple parts of India since I have had the chance to work with some of the wonderful organizations for mental health advocacy in India. Additionally, the widespread love for music and film from India in the United States is continuing to grow. For those reasons and so many more, I felt it was important for 'You Are Not Alone' to feature an artiste representing this culture in some way. I am beyond honoured to be joined by Asees Kaur. In addition to her incredible advocacy, her talent and voice significantly contribute to some of the most well-known and iconic songs and films from India. I love how her vocals sound on 'You Are Not Alone'.
How easy or difficult was it to get all these singers on board?
At first, we were thinking of collaborating with my friends in the industry who loved what I was doing against bullying and expanded from there. What we ended up deciding with a message such as 'You Are Not Alone' during challenging times like these was that voices from different backgrounds could offer representation to people from different countries and unite the experiences of recovery, inspiring hope in a way that couldn't have been done without such a diverse roster of celebrities. Having some of the most prominent voices around the world was absolutely a long shot. We did not at all expect to get the collaboration that we did get. I am forever grateful for what each artiste adds.
I also should include that one of the first names to join this project when it started years ago was Mary Wilson, one of the most historically important and iconic music legends in the United States. She paved the way for so many, as she was a founding member of The Supremes. She was also one of the kindest and most caring people I ever had the pleasure of meeting. I hope to honour her legacy following the tragic news of her passing, and will never forget how much of a difference she made in the world of mental health through her support on this project.
The goal of the campaign was to collect US $5,000 and you collected more than $1,000 in just three days. If this collaboration is successful, will you be coming up with more such singles in the future?
While it is hard to predict future plans in times like these, due to the success of this collaboration my co-writer and I hope to be announcing a surprise soon. And when it is safe to travel again, I hope to work with these artistes again and meet in person.