Iowa-Illinois World Nation

“Welcome to Our World”

Our first World Nation recording, Welcome to Our World, was recorded at Chicago Trax during the summer of 1992.  Studio owners Reid Hyams and Buster Ursini took an interest in the children’s project and, to accommodate the group’s budget, they offered a split recording plan so the children’s choir could record in Studio A, while the supporting musicians recorded their tracks in smaller Trax studios. The children and chaperones travelled by bus from Davenport, Iowa to Chicago, Illinois, accompanied by Muscatine Community Television (MCT).  The event is documented in an MCT video, “The Making of a Recording,” that chronicles the rehearsals, planning meetings, fundraising, and the Chicago recording experience.

The recording, “Welcome to Our World,” includes songs in nine languages: Swahili, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Hindi, Vietnamese, Spanish, and English, as well as three original songs by Haring.  One of the songs, “(Let’s Make the World) A Better Place to Live,” was written in collaboration with third grader Rene Hernandez Martinez. More than 20 musicians appear on the recording along with the 16-member children’s choir.

Julian Herzfeld was ideally suited to be the engineer for World Nation’s first multicultural recording due to his extensive and varied engineering experience with popular and ethnic music sessions, as well as other children’s recordings.  Julian had previously worked with Duke Ellington, Elvis Costello, John Cougar Mellencamp, Ella Jenkins, and Duran, Duran, as well as other Chicago Trax artists.  After reviewing the work of several Trax engineers, Haring selected Herzfeld to be the engineer for the World Nation project.

Herzfeld and Haring worked long sessions to record the Welcome to Our World collection.  Song instrumentation on the recording reflects the diversity of ethnic songs presented: East Indian tamboura, harmonium, and tablas; Latin American charango, quena and pan pipes; Japanese koto and shakuhachi flute; Chinese zheng; violin; horns; 12-string acoustic guitar and electric guitar; violin; horns; synthesizers and piano; and congas, drums and percussion.

Duane Lundeen manufactured the Welcome to Our World CD at Media International in River Forest.  Now owner of Media on Demand in Omaha, Nebraska, Duane continues to support the vision and goals of the group. Chicago entertainment attorney Linda Mensch has served as a legal resource for the group for many years.

The Welcome to Our World Record Release Party was held at the Quad City Arts Council in Rock Island, Illinois, on October 24, 1992. The date was selected to coincide with United Nations Day, as a symbol of world unity.  Area media covered the event attended by the World Nation children, their friends and families, participating musicians from the Quad-City area, community leaders, and arts council representatives.