Good early reviews for "stellar cast" on new Voices for Darfur DVD

The DVD of last year's Voices for Darfur concert, featuring "excellent performances from a stellar cast," as well as backstage footage of the stars and additional exclusive songs by Sade, David Gray and Franz Ferdinand, is already attracting high praise from music critics.

The DVD shows the all-star cast joining together for the finale of the Voices for Darfur Concert.   © UNHCR/S.Camper

GENEVA, October 5 (UNHCR) - After an initial launch in the U.K., EMI is now rolling out the DVD of a recent all-star charity concert on behalf of refugees from Darfur. Already out in much of Europe, South Africa and Australia, the DVD will also be released in Japan and North America in the coming weeks.

The DVD, which - in addition to the Voices for Darfur concert itself - features backstage footage and three additional exclusive songs by Sade, David Gray and Franz Ferdinand, is already attracting some high praise from music critics.

In December 2004, some of the music industry's most illustrious artists - all of whom are featured on the DVD - joined up with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at London's Royal Albert Hall for a special concert to raise funds for the victims of the conflict in Darfur.

Artists who took part in the concert - described as "magical" by many in the audience, according to Reuters AlertNet - included Chrissie Hynde, Mick Hucknall, Antony Costa, Yusuf Islam, Mario Frangoulis, Deborah Myers, Alison Moyet, Moloko singer Roisin Murphy, Ruthie Henshall, Sir Willard White and the UN refugee agency's long-standing Goodwill Ambassador, Barbara Hendricks.

Early reviews surrounding the U.K. launch of the DVD have in general been very positive: "... It is obviously an incredibly worthy purchase," noted Music Week on 12 September, "and it has also the advantage of drawing some excellent performances from a stellar cast, most of whom elected to perform classic American songs."

The September edition of Record Collector was also very complimentary: "The sincerity of the performers is what raises this above similar events - no one is here because they have a single to plug or to pontificate. Each performer shines on the stage: seeing Chrissie Hynde perform the loungey in 'The Still of the Night' is worth the price tag alone. Alison Moyet reaffirms her status as Britain's best-kept secret, but the night belongs to Yusuf Islam's impromptu performance of 'The Little Ones,' a track originally written for the children of Dunblane, which is so right for the occasion."

Sade wrote and recorded her first new track in four years, "Mum," especially for the DVD, accompanied by images from Darfur. David Gray, who had to pull out of the concert due to voice problems, recorded "Ain't No Love" for the DVD.

British band Franz Ferdinand was also unable to attend the concert, but provided a song for the evening, and donated half of their Mercury Music prize money. Coldplay were also unable to attend the concert itself, but made a generous financial contribution.

Critics have praised the technical quality of the DVD, as well as the performances of the singers. "As a DVD package this scores highly as both a sumptuously shot concert and a full to brimming heap of extras of behind-the-scenes preparations for the concert, and documentaries about the conflict itself," was the verdict given in Jazzwise Magazine.

The conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, which began in early 2003, has now displaced close to 2 million people within Darfur and driven more than 200,000 into neighbouring Chad, where UNHCR has set up 12 camps to care for the refugees.

All profits from the DVD will go to support the UN refugee agency's work in Darfur and Chad.