Case Study: Sinead O’Connor

Legendary Irish rocker records charity single for survivors of sex trafficking

The Story of the Song

In Summer 2009, Fuel invited iconic musician Sinead O’Connor to re-record her song “This Is to Mother You” to raise awareness and funds for survivors of child sex trafficking in America. The song – produced for and benefiting Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) – expresses a simple promise to vulnerable children in America and around the world: You may not see us, but we see you. And we will love and care for you.

Production on the song began in January 2009 when Fuel began to assemble the creative and production team for the project.  Sinead’s immediate choice for a vocalist to sing with her was the incomparable Mary J Blige, who responded immediately to Sinead’s invitation with an enthusiastic YES.  With this settled, the project quickly added producers Martin ‘Doc’ McKinney (Sting, Alice Smith) and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest), who spent three months collaborating with Fuel and supervising producer Paul Heck (Red Hot Organization) to develop the instrumental track for this new recording.  On August 13th, Sinead entered the recording booth at the legendary Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin (also known as the ‘U2 Studio’) to lay her vocals for the song.  On September 10th, Mary entered the studio to complete the vocal tracking for the song. She was joined by young Martha B, a survivor and GEMS member who had idolized Blige for years.

For Martha, an aspiring singer, the experience at Germano Studios was a once in a lifetime first.  Not only did she have the opportunity to observe the skill and artistry Mary possesses in the studio, she also got to meet her idol and then step into the same recording booth and lay her own vocals.  She was a quick study, adopting the studio ‘lingo’ and patient demeanor that Mary demonstrated during her session.  At midnight that night, producers called it a wrap, and the new charity recording of This Is to Mother You officially entered post-production.  Along the way, Martha impressed the producers with her calm under pressure, and her unique and powerful voice.  Commenting on the experience, Ali Shaheed Muhammad said: “I feel like we are witnessing that special ‘first time in the studio’ moment for an artist with a long career ahead of her.”  As GEMS re-iterates to its members everyday, all is possible when you believe in your potential and work hard to reach it.

Production Credits

Music & Lyrics by Sinead O’Connor
Produced by Martin ‘Doc’ McKinney and Ali Shaheed Muhammad
Mixed by Joe Zook
Engineered by Tim Martin (Dublin) and Christian Baker (NYC)
Vocal Production by Sinead O’Connor & FOC 187 (Dublin) and Mary J Blige (NYC)
Executive Producers: Rachel Lloyd (GEMS) and Bridgit Antoinette Evans (FUEL)
Supervising Producer: Paul Heck
Management for Ms. O’Connor: Fachtna O’Ceallaigh
Management for Ms. Blige: Jaha Johnson and Kendu Isaacs
Cover Art: Neka Bennett
Press & Promotion: Muhammida El Muhajir/GEMS
Special Thanks (Public Relations): Lai Ling Jew
Videography:  Dave Jackson (Dublin) and Joe Williams (NYC)
Video Editing:  Deirdre Bell for Red Car and Muhammida El Muhajir

Published by Warner Chappell Music
Mary J Blige appears courtesy of Matriarch/Geffen Records

Special Thanks

FUEL wishes to extend a heartfelt thanks to Fachtna O’Ceallaigh and Sinead O’Connor for their immense generosity and kindness, Mary J Blige, Jaha Johnson, Kendu Isaacs, Madeline Nelson and FFAWN for bringing such heart and commitment to this project, Martha B for gracing us with her beautiful voice and spirit,  Doc McKinney and Ali Shaheed Muhammad for creating such a beautiful new recording, Lisa Braude and Monica Talavera for quietly allowing two ridiculously busy producers to work far beyond the call of duty on our behalf, Paul Heck for lending such a high creative standard and resourcefulness to this effort, Lai Ling Jew for sharing GEMS’ story relentlessly with anyone who would listen, Dave Jackson of Maddog Digital in Dublin and John Darlington in New York for donating their services as cinematographers for our studio sessions, Deirdre Bell of Red Car for donating her services as editor of select video clips, Anna Keturah and Windmill Lane Studios for donating services and space for Sinead’s Dublin Session, and Troy Germano for welcoming our team into his New York studio, Sarita Naranjan Bhatt, Ashton Kutcher and for donating social media advice and technical assistance, Yobie Benjamin, Bill Shipsey, Steven Saftig and iTunes for bringing the song to a wider audience, Brad Navin, Nick Gordan and The Orchard for distributing our song, and Muhammida El Muhajir and the entire GEMS staff for fighting so passionately every day for our girls, and finally, thank you to everyone who chooses to buy this song.  Only with your support can GEMS hope to someday end the trafficking and exploitation of children.