‘Breathe Fire’… a song for Bhopal.
Breathe Fire is a music project conceived and written for the Bhopal Medical Appeal. Its aim is to spread awareness of the ongoing disaster in Bhopal and, ultimately, help shame those in positions of power into doing the right thing.
The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free first-class care to victims of the gas disaster and the ongoing water contamination crisis. We've been lucky enough to have a range of great artists record the song so far, including Matt Henry, the Olivier-Award-winning singer and actor, recently honoured with the MBE.
And most recently, none other than the Hollywood screen and theatre legend, Dame Helen Mirren. Helen's spoken-word video was shot by her own team in between movie shoots, and also showcases the various other fantastic artists who've contributed to the project so far.
We welcome any musician to take the song and make their own version, in whatever way they see fit, using the lyrics and chords for the song, available here, as a starting point. As the folk icon Peggy Seeger said: "Breathe Fire is moving, easy to learn and rewarding to sing. Every singer who sings it breathes more fire into it, making sure the memory of this catastrophic corporate crime will never be forgotten."
Dame Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren needs little introduction. She is the revered and well-loved, award-winning actress whose film and TV work includes 'Prime Suspect', 'The Queen', 'Elizabeth 1', 'Caligula', 'Excalibur', 'Eye In The Sky', 'Red' and 'Winchester' She’s one of the few performers to have achieved the acting ‘Triple Crown’ of an Academy Award, an Olivier Award, and a Tony Award.
This video features a new spoken-word version by Helen, shot by her own team in between movie shoots and gifted to the BMA to support the Bhopal campaign, along with highlighting all of the other artists to have contributed so far.
Maria Fidelis Convent School
Maria Fidelis Convent School has a multicultural intake and draws its pupils from all parts of inner city London. Their powerful and emotive gospel version was the first recording of Breathe Fire.
This award-winning gospel choir has performed at an incredible array of prestigious events in front of prominent VIPs, as well as performing in their local community and for charitable organisations, at venues including Southbank Centre, the Royal Albert Hall, Southwark Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral and the Royal Festival Hall.
The choir performed for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI during his state visit to the UK at Buckingham Palace, in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, and at the Commonwealth Day Observance attended by the Queen and London Mayor.
Thanks also to cameraman/editor Milton Boyne and The Church Studios, David Gray, Darren Simpson, Gavin Batty and Caley Dewhurst.
Matt Henry & band
The singer and actor Matt Henry (MBE) won a Laurence Olivier Award as best actor in a musical for his starring role as Lola in the London West End production of the musical Kinky Boots. His early credits include The Lion King and Avenue Q, and he was a finalist on the second series of BBC's The Voice, mentored by both will.i.am and Jessie J.
He's toured the UK supporting Cyndi Lauper and his debut album Red Flare, produced by Mr Hudson and released in 2015, is much admired. He was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Christmas Honours List, 2017, for his contribution to theatre.
This version of the song features Matt's fabulous, soul vocals alongside his full band and with guest harmonies from the awesome Meloné M'kenzy. Matt has also recorded a strong, blues version with Jonny Martin on solo guitar. Thanks also go to cameraman/editor Milton Boyne and music producer Julian Simmons, for all their work on this recording and video.
Hailing from the Isle of Wight, Paul Armfield has been described as "A buried treasure and and heir to deathless troubadours such as Tim Hardin." He continues to write and record music, at an energetic pace, while now also managing the thriving 'Quay Arts Centre' in Newport, Isle of Wight, where he programmes and promotes an incredibly imaginative and varied calendar of events.
Paul's intense, stripped-down folk version of Breathe Fire was filmed on his iPhone.
Professional drummer Cherisse Osei has been touring with top, international artists and playing to sell-out audiences around the world for over 13 years.
Working with industry legends and innovative artists including Simple Minds, Bryan Ferry, Paloma Faith and MIKA, she has played the world’s best music festivals and featured on American, UK and European TV shows. Her visual flamboyance and rock-solid technique make her one of the most sought after drummers in the UK.
This, the fourth version of Breathe Fire, features the drumming talent of Cherisse accompanied by the amazing, soulful vocals of Gloria Onitiri and Meloné M'kenzy. Thanks also to camerawoman/editor Hannah Millard, music producer Julian Simmons, and at Wendyhouse/Woodstock Studios, David Phelan, Sarah Haycox and Jerry Meehan.
SongRise is a Washington DC-based women's social justice a cappella group aiming to encourage perseverance, raise awareness, break down barriers, touch hearts and inspire action through song. Inspired by the rich tapestry of voices raised for change, the founders of SongRise gathered their colleagues and friends to sing for social justice. This swinging a capella is the first version of Breathe Fire to be recorded by any artist outside of the UK.
“We use our music to inspire the fight for social change. We offer up our singing talents at community events, rallies, protests, farmer's markets, civil rights celebrations, arts showcases, schools, prisons, the Capitol ... you name it, we will stand up and sing!”
Formed in late 2014, Drogo are a 4-piece rock band hailing from Bristol, UK and play a high energy, riff laden rock sound with hard hitting melodic vocals. Their debut EP ‘NTMA’ was written in summer of 2015 and was released in November of the same year. It has seen them move from strength to strength since, playing shows across the south and finishing 3rd out of 60 bands in a Bristol Battle of the Bands contest.
This storming version of the song was shot and recorded live in front of a packed audience, at the Fiddler's Elbow, Camden, north London. The video also features brief clips from some other outstanding versions of the song. Thanks also to Milton Boyne, Gordon Watt & Tina Stallard, for cameras and editing, and music producer Julian Simmons.
Ami Kaelyn is a multi-instrumentalist singer songwriter, from Malmesbury in Wiltshire, who has been writing and performing her own compositions nearly all her life. She has a beautiful, ethereal style and is one of the few female singer/ songwriters to finger pick a 12 string guitar which puts a very distinctive style to her music and wonderfully complements her spell-binding vocal. Ami also plays the bodhran and often joins folk band The Home Fires on cello.
Ami's haunting version of Breathe Fire was produced by Neil Muttock. Thanks also to cameraman/editor Milton Boyne.
Matt Henry with Jonny Martin
This version of Breathe Fire features a rare blues session from acclaimed singer, and Olivier Award winning actor, Matt Henry.
Matt, singing in a blues style, is accompanied by Jonny Martin on raw, solo guitar. Thanks also go to cameraman/editor Milton Boyne and music producer Julian Simmons, for all their work on this recording and video.
Please share this page and, if you’re a musician, please take this song and make your own version.
The hope is to put as many versions of this song online as there are musicians willing to do it. We'd love to hear your take on this song, in any genre, from anywhere on the planet, so please get in touch.
You’ll be helping over half a million people affected by the disaster. They’ve been fighting for more three decades, fighting one of THE great injustices, the world’s worst industrial disaster, which is STILL going on. Not only will you be helping the survivors, you’ll be helping change the world by ensuring that this kind of disaster can never happen again.
In the words of the song's writer: "Bhopal is a problem that actually could be fixed. How many of the terrible things that are happening these days can you say that about? The company execs and politicians who could fix Bhopal - who could clean up the toxic site and water supply, fund proper healthcare and full compensation - haven’t done it, partly because they think no one cares and that they can get away with it. This is an attempt to shame them into action, through the power of music.
"So please share - and make music - far and wide. The more far, the more wide, the more chance that one day soon those execs and politicians will be looking over the shoulders of their kids and grand-kids, on YouTube, or whatever place they’re sharing stuff, and they’ll suddenly catch their breath."