Chris Birkett & The Free Spirits turn the Sly Stone classic Everyday People into an extended family affair with their new single and video — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
“The song’s message of world peace is as important today as when it was first recorded in the 1970s,” stresses Birkett, the Juno-winning, platinum-selling producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist who leads The Free Spirits with Shari Tallon.
He isn’t kidding. Everyday People — which appears on The Free Spirits’ recent album 11:11 — has long been a magnet for a multitude of musicians since its 1968 release, sparking versions by Aretha Franklin, Joan Jett, and Pearl Jam, among others. The Free Spirits’ take is not only well received by fans, but the original band itself. “I sent the video to Andy Newmark,” he explains. “He was Sly and the Family Stone’s drummer and someone who I’d worked with in the past. He wrote back to me on Nov. 11 — so, 11:11 — and said, ‘Sounds and looks great, Chris. Good work!’ It’s great to have his thumbs up!” But the video also has a poignant aspect. “The video was directed by Tom Omorean, who passed away suddenly and sadly in December 2019, soon after finishing what would be his last video.”
The track features Birkett on lead vocals, backed by the Hamilton Academy of Performing Arts Student Choir, with additional vocals from 2019 Maple Blues Award winner Ann Vriend. It’s just one highlight of The Free Spirits’ debut LP, which features thought-provoking lyrics, dynamic instrumental arrangements and multiple musical genres. Under their musical moniker, Birkett and Tallon are a collaboration shedding light on life, the world, and how artists can help be a positive force for truth and change.
Birkett has worked with Buffy Sainte-Marie, Steve Earle, Bob Geldof, Alison Moyet, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Talking Heads, The Pogues and The Proclaimers — and recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of producing Sinead O’Connor’s seismic release I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. His song Where Do We Go From Here was featured alongside Dire Straits, Bob Marley, U2, Peter Gabriel and Queen, on 1993’s One Voice, One Love compilation in support of CARE International. He believes “in the universal language of music to make a change in humanity’s attitude to climate, culture, and race.”