“Perhaps they should listen to my anthem,” says the amateur composer. “It’s the only way anything will get done.”
Mr. Hicks is vying to have his song, “With Earth’s Grace,” adopted as the meeting’s official song by organizers of the 26th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, in Glasgow. But he has competition.
David Glasson, best known for his work with members of England’s Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, a ’60s-era group that mixed psychedelic pop with comedy, has high hopes for “Save the Earth,” an anthem he wrote with John Gribbin. And there is a Scottish collective’s “Enough Is Enough,” and an international group collaboration called “Do It While You Can.”
In recent years, anthems have moved beyond commemorating nations to saluting European soccer championships, Asian trade blocs, cities and companies. The United Nations Chilldren’s Fund ordered one up. So did the North Atlantic Treaty Organization: “The NATO Hymn,” written by a lieutenant colonel in the Luxembourg army, was formally adopted in 2018.
Tim Rice, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s collaborator on musicals such as “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Evita,” wrote a would-be anthem for the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, England, this year, but the event didn’t bite, and the schoolchildren rounded up to perform it sang it on their own.
Even Mars has an anthem: “Dare to dream! Dare to strive! Build a home for our children. Make this desert come alive.” The Lakewood, Colo.-based Mars Society that commissioned says it rivals “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem.
Whether COP26 will adopt one, though, is far from certain. There is no formal anthem competition, despite the roster of competitors. Asked whether they intended to have an anthem, a representative of the organizers said they don’t currently have plans for one. There are a lot of other issues to think about, including getting enough Covid vaccines to delegates from the developing world so they can meet U.K. entry requirements, other officials said.
Mr. Hicks and his cohorts are undeterred.
Mr. Hicks, 60, a former psychiatric nurse who lives in London, spent $400 to hire a singer and arranger to improve the odds for his composition, which he says is loosely based on old spirituals. For another $275, he hired a Bangladeshi artist to create an animated video. Mr. Hicks posted it on YouTube, and it has attracted nearly 120,000 views.
Messages on his social-media pages have urged him on, including from religious and educational figures in the U.K. and elsewhere.
Mr. Hicks said he got through by phone to try to lobby a member of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, which is hosting the event. She apologized and quickly ended the conversation, he says. The official didn’t respond to a request for comment. Other officials haven’t responded to his calls or emails, he says.
“No one wants to know” about his anthem, Mr. Hicks says.
Mr. Glasson also is trying to increase his song’s chances. His local school in Brighton, in the south of England, is working on a version of “Save the Earth,” he says. “I certainly think we’re in with a shout.”
Mr. Hicks admits to having less musical know-how than the pros. He says his influences include the minor-key Hebraic melodies he absorbed in his local synagogue as a child.
“Typically I just la-la-la the tunes, so it’s a case of getting the singer to match what’s in my head,” he says. “Then I tell the arranger what I need, and we go from there.”
This time, Mr. Hicks said he put pen to paper in a bid to inspire the different delegations at the summit to set aside their differences and make binding commitments to slow climate change.
“I’ll respect you, as you will me,” the song goes. “We’ll fight but still be friends. That’s our victory.”
He turned to websites for freelancers, including Fiverr, to find singers and arrangers to produce a recorded version. “I went through six people on Fiverr before I could find the right person,” he says. “One of them just put drums all through it. I asked for my money back.”
The arranger he settled on, Ukrainian Boris Sevastyanov, “actually improved it,” Mr. Hicks says. And the Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based singer, who uses the single name Nimiwari, “nailed it,” he says.
As the clock ticks down to the November summit, and without a seal of approval from the organizers, Mr. Hicks acknowledges that his piece might have to serve as an unofficial call to arms.
“If that’s the way it goes,” he says, “I suppose I’ll have to make do with that.”
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