Last fall, Dr. Jay Segel of West Tisbury was visiting his wife’s parents’ home on the banks of the La Touvre river in the southwest of France. Segel is a singer and songwriter, and says that he’ll often bring his guitar out in a rowboat, where he’ll peacefully drift on the river while breathing in the inspiration of this special place. “I’m always in touch with my creativity there, in that environment,” Segel says. “It’s my home away from home, where I’m free from the rigors of daily life.”
And on this particular visit, he was disturbed by what was going on in our country. “We’ve become polarized into red states and blue states,” Segel said. “You can’t have conversations with friends and acquaintances without them becoming politically charged and heated.”
It was with this frame of mind that Segel had a vision. “Just imagine if there were observers sitting on the moon,” Segel said, “looking down on the earth, at this beautiful blue ball floating through space peacefully. And they thought how nice it would be if everyone could all just be one.” And as he was imagining his beautiful scenario, some couplets presented themselves to him.
“I can’t stand these wars
Between left and right, black and white
And there’s so much more, straight or gay,
If and where you pray …”
A song proceeded to take shape in his mind, and the central idea was, “This is a call to action, not a call to arms,” Segel said. “Change is needed, but violence doesn’t give you long-term, positive change — we have to focus on ties that bind us together.”
At the time, Segel was working on a CD, but he was so taken by the idea of this song that he realized he had to put the CD aside and focus on this new song until the project was done.
By March, Segel had returned home to the Vineyard, and began sculpting the song. He had a lot of conversations with family, friends, and people at work, trying to get a temperature reading on the idea. “I realized I was trying to thread a very fine line with this idea,” Segel said. “The driving goal is that there are always differences you can find, but we must focus on the things that bind us all together.”
Segel reached out to three of his closest friends to discuss the idea: Barbara Dacey, a singer and songwriter, and former programmer and DJ at MVY Radio; Craig Tankard, who performs under the name C.J. Anthony (Tankard was raised on the Vineyard, and has sung backup and toured with Mariah Carey, and recorded with Michael Jackson); and Kate Taylor, who needs no introduction to anyone on the Vineyard — she’s Kate Taylor.
Segel explains the relationship each of these people had to the creation of the song, which was called “A World of Different People (Human to Human).”
“Kate is the muse,” Segel said, “Barbara is the clarity, Craig is the soul, and I guess I’m the heart of the song.”
Segel is a Breedlove Guitar artist, and on the Breedlove website there is this description of the song: “‘A World of Different People (Human to Human)’ is seen as a reimagine of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine,’ and the soul of Marvin Gaye’s social consciousness, and the works of artists like Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson calling for peace, equality, harmony, and unity.”
The CD was released on Segel’s label, Pond Road Project, and to produce the song, Segel assembled a group of singers from the Vineyard and across the country. Seventeen musicians collaborated on the making of the CD. Ten were recruited from Segel’s contacts outside the Vineyard, and seven were from the Vineyard: Tankard, Dacey, Segel, Taylor, Rose Guerin, Jim Parr, and Robbie Soltz. Segel played all the instruments on the track.
Segel said he was inspired by the “We Are the World” single, which brought dozens of artists together in the ’80s to raise money for Africa. “That was my original vision of showing unity, harmony, and innovation,” Segel said.
All the Vineyard artists were recorded in Segel’s home studio. And all of the other artists recorded the tracks themselves and sent Segel the files, and he imported them, positioned them in the mix, balanced them, and added elements such as reverb, equalization, and other effects. Sweetwater Studios in Fort Wayne, Ind., did the mixing and mastering.
Other than just creating a song that could hopefully inspire people to come together, the only piece missing was finding a group or organization that could benefit from donations and sales of the CD. Jay’s wife Celine came up with the idea of donating to Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders is an international, humanitarian, medical non-governmental organisation (NGO), best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.
“Their mission statement was the closest aligned to the words of the song,” Segel said. “These humanitarian and medical issues are worldwide, so I wanted to choose a global leader in humanitarian and medical aid with an impeccable public record.”
“A World of Different People (Human to Human)” is available on digital platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, Instagram, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Deezer, Pandora, and more than 150 other platforms.
There will also be a limited run of CDs, numbered and signed by the core group and others, for larger donors to Doctors Without Borders, and all the proceeds from the sales or downloads will go to the organization. An anonymous donor has agreed to match a $5,000 donation. Segel would also like to thank Sweetwater Studios, Breedlove Guitars, and CD Baby for their sponsorships.
“Jay Segel has created a song for the times and for the ages. I’m honored to be a part of this woven tapestry of singers and musicians. Jay has captured this moment, and has made a song with a mission. Unity and harmony, justice and dignity. Onward!”
“Jay Segel has written a moving anthem with a heartfelt plea for harmony and healing. The song speaks to the power of music and individual people, and how both can act as a uniting force. It’s a thrill for me to join Jay and the diverse group of singers and musicians he has brought together to share this message of hope.”
“This song is a great representation of the times we are living through now, and I’m so happy to be working with a group of people I would not have crossed paths with in my normal music career.”