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Coronavirus: Brian Kennedy and Cliona Hagan among musicians on song for NHS angels

Local artists join forces for new single to help raise funds for Covid-19 research

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Brian Kennedy at his laptop

Brian Kennedy at his laptop

Song to Heal a Broken Land - NHS Tribute- COVID-19 Rehabilitation Fundraiser.

Song to Heal a Broken Land - NHS Tribute- COVID-19 Rehabilitation Fundraiser.

Brian Kennedy at his laptop

A group of local musicians have joined forces to perform an emotional reworked version of The Adventures' hit single Broken Land as a tribute to the NHS and its 'army of angels'.

Up to 26 artists from different musical genres lend their vocals and musicianship to the updated rendition of the Belfast band's 1988 Top 20 hit.

The single, rewritten by The Adventures' original guitarist Pat Gribben and produced and edited by Cormac O'Kane of Red Box Studios, will help raise funds for life-changing research at Queen's University for survivors of Covid-19.

The Band Aid style collaboration is also accompanied by a video, featuring each artist performing a lyric from the track while in lockdown in their own homes, alongside a photograph of a named key member of the NHS.

The project was the brainchild of UTV producer Petra Ellis, who wanted to do something to help and support the NHS.

Among the singers and artists taking part are The Adventures' former frontman Terry Sharpe, Brian Kennedy, Peter Corry, Duke Special, Jim Brown, Cliona Hagan, Kerri Quinn, Joby Fox and Andrea Begley.

Pat said he was "honoured and delighted" that a song he wrote over 30 years ago was now being used to say a huge thank you to the NHS and to raise vital research funds to help survivors of Covid-19.

"When I wrote Broken Land back in 1987 it was primarily about Northern Ireland and the Troubles but also about the riots going on in South Africa at that time," he said.

"The song did very well for us then and it's wonderful to think it's now being used for such a fantastic cause.

"I rewrote some of the lyrics to make it relevant to the pandemic but I was stuck on the line just before 'to heal this broken land'. My wife Eileen came up with 'hand in hand' and it was just perfect for what we were trying to achieve.

"For the last 10 years I've had cause to be treated by the NHS quite a lot and every time I've come out of hospital, I've remarked on how amazing all the staff have been. It's so apparent to everyone now that we couldn't be without them.

"This song is just our way of saying thank you for everything they've done and what they continue to do."

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Song to Heal a Broken Land - NHS Tribute- COVID-19 Rehabilitation Fundraiser. Brian Kennedy

Song to Heal a Broken Land - NHS Tribute- COVID-19 Rehabilitation Fundraiser. Brian Kennedy

Song to Heal a Broken Land - NHS Tribute- COVID-19 Rehabilitation Fundraiser. Brian Kennedy

With the band's original lead singer Terry recording the guide vocals, each singer was asked to send their own version of the song onto Pat and Cormac, recorded either from a home studio or via mobile phone. Pat and Cormac provided guitar and keyboards with Nicky Scott on bass and Liam Bradley on drums, from his home in Donegal. Conor Lamb added whistles and pipes.

Each singer then sent through his or her own version of the single, which Cormac then painstakingly edited to include every voice.

One of the singers who was more than happy to give up his time to contribute to Broken Land was Belfast's Brian Kennedy, who battled cancer for three years and underwent nine-hour surgery at a hospital in Harrow, outside London. Brian, who was given the all clear last year, said he'd felt emotional when he watched the Broken Land video.

"Broken Land was a great tune and when Pat told me he was rewriting it and what the context was, I jumped at the chance to get involved," he said.

"I've had first hand experience of how hard the NHS work; the cleaners, kitchen staff, porters, security, doctors and nurses, paramedics, ambulance drivers. For too long they've been invisible but now everyone is seeing them; this army of angels. I found this video very powerful and moving and I'm proud to be part of it."

Cormac O'Kane paid tribute to all the artists who'd taken part in Broken Land.

"This isn't a glory trip for musicians," he said. "It is a genuine thank you to the NHS and that's why each musician only appears once and with someone from the NHS. The focus isn't on the artists. What we have here is a community of musicians wanting to honour the community that is the NHS. It's our way of saying thank you and in the process, raise funds."

To donate to the fundraising efforts for research, please go to https://www.qub.ac.uk/alumni/healthisbrokenland/

Belfast Telegraph