The Bryan Adams Foundation Is Doing Remarkable Work

By Karen Bliss 4/29/10 |

Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams at The Bread of Life home for children living with AIDS/HIV in St. Vincent - photo courtesy of The Bryan Adams Foundation
Bryan Adams was recently honoured with the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award at the 2010 Juno Awards in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, which he was unable to accept in person when the Icelandic volcanic ash alert grounded flights all over Europe and the U.K.

The Canadian rocker, who has sold more than 75 millions albums worldwide, has been giving back in a big way since the beginning of his career but is a little embarrassed to be receiving an award for his philanthropy.

"I don't give back in order to get slapped on the back," explains Adams. "I give back because my music has given my name the ability to help others."

An Officer of the Order of Canada (the country's highest degree of merit), Adams will also receive The Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement on April 30.

Adams' philanthropic endeavours are primarily focused these days with his namesake Foundation, which is almost completely supported through the work and syndication of his photography.

The causes supported by The Bryan Adams Foundation are varied and wide, but his particular soft spot is for kids and education: he's helped build schools in Africa; provided hearing impaired children with more learning opportunities; improved schooling for impoverished girls in India; helped children's orphanages in Uruguay and the Czech Republic and supported AIDS hospices for children in the Caribbean.

The Foundation's motto is Helping People Help People.

"It tries to assist other organizations that have good ideas and need support," says Adams, who lives in England, where he registered his charity in 2006. "I decided to start a Foundation with a guitar, and I asked all my guitar colleagues to sign it   Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page   to name a few."

The guitar raised around 150,000 [$300,000 CDN] and went on to be auctioned again that same night for another charity in Qatar.  It's now in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive guitar in history.

Born in Kingston, Ontario, Adams spent much of his youth living in Europe and the Middle East due to his father's diplomatic postings for the Canadian government.  In the early 70s his family returned to Canada, finally settling in Vancouver.

"I was into music and had a definite idea of what I wanted to do from a very early age," says Adams, who left school at the age of 15 to concentrate on singing, playing guitar and writing songs.

He also started volunteering with Greenpeace.

"They were literally around the corner from where I was living in Kitsilano in the 1970s," Adams remembers.  "It's amazing to think that we were campaigning to Stop The Whaling back then, and it's still going on. It really needs to stop."

Adams signed a recording contract with A&M records in 1978. He was 18.  With each release he toured extensively and broke North America on his third album, 1983's Cuts Like A Knife. His next album, 1984's Reckless, was even bigger, earning the distinction of being the first album by a Canadian artist to earn a Diamond certification for sales of 1 million copies domestically.

In '85, Adams co-wrote the Canadian and Ethiopian famine relief song, Tears Are Not Enough, which was sung by a who's who of Canadian artists under the name Northern Lights for Africa.  It raised more than $3 million.  That July, he opened Live Aid in Philadelphia, a global telethon that also raised over $250 million towards Ethiopian famine relief.

"Without a doubt, those events helped me to realize the potential of being in the public eye, and the attention you can give to a particular cause by lending your name to it," says Adams.

Besides Live Aid in the 80s, there was the Prince's Trust charity concerts and Amnesty International's first concert tour, A Conspiracy of Hope. Before the end of the decade Adams had received the Bob Geldof Humanitarian Award.

Adams' philanthropy continued in the 90s with Save The Rainforest, a benefit at New York's Carnegie Hall with Sting and Tina Turner, and Farm Aid VII in Ames, Iowa  joining Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Johnny Cash and others to assist American family farmers.

In 2005, Adams performed in Barrie, ON, for the multi-continent Live 8 concert, televised worldwide in support of Make Poverty History and Global Call for Action Against Poverty. He also appeared on the Canada for Asia concert telethon in Toronto to raise money for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

"One of the reasons The Foundation got set up in the first place was the tsunami," says Adams.  "Instead of giving money to UNICEF or something like that, I decided that I would raise my own money and personally allocate it to specific projects that needed direct attention, as opposed to letting the money go and never knowing what happened.

"Up until that point, I was literally just saying yes or no to things and not having a focus.  Now with The Foundation, it's given a lot of focus to things that I'm interested in, which have ultimately a lot to do with education and giving opportunities to others."

To see the remarkable work, his Foundation is doing and the various causes that need attention and funds, go to:

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