Red Hot Organization

Red Hot Organization (RHO) is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture. Since its inception in 1989, over 400 artists, producers and directors have contributed to over 15 compilation albums, related television programs and media events to raise donations totaling more than 10 million dollars for HIV / AIDS relief and awareness around the world.

First founded as King Cole, Inc. by Leigh Blake and John Carlin, Red Hot was established in response to the devastation wrought by AIDS on a generation of New York artists and intellectuals. Carlin had an ‘improbable dream: to create an AIDS charity album with pop stars singing Cole Porter songs.’ In 1990 the dream was realized when ‘Red Hot + Blue’ was released, featuring David Byrne, Annie Lennox, Tom Waits, U2, and Erasure.

In 1992, Red Hot produced the second in the series: ‘Red Hot + Dance’ features remixes and original tracks by major club artists. It also contains three original tracks by George Michael. In 1993, Red Hot released, ‘No Alternative,’ produced by Paul Heck, which featured Nirvana, the Beastie Boys, a then-unknown band, Smashing Pumpkins and Soul Asylum. ‘Red Hot + Country’ was released in 1994 by Mercury Nashville. The album features music from the classic country and classic rock genres performed by an assortment of seasoned old and new country music artists including Dolly Parton, Stills & Nash, and Jackson Browne.

In 1994 RHO released ‘Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool.’ The CD features collaborations between old school jazz performers and contemporary hip hop artists including: Donald Byrd, MC Solaar, Digable Planets, The Pharcyde, Branford Marsalis, and Alice Coltrane. 1995 brought ‘Red Hot + Bothered,’ an anthology of indie rock from the 1990s. ‘Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip’ and ‘America Is Dying Slowly’ (another acronym for AIDS) followed in 1996. ‘Offbeat’ combines elements of ambient, spoken word, and hip hop to expand the ideas of artistic collage and spiritual transcendence. ‘America Is Dying Slowly’ features collaborations from several hip hop acts, including Mobb Deep, De La Soul, Coolio, Biz Markie, Chubb Rock, The Lost Boyz, Pete Rock, and Wu-Tang Clan.

‘Red Hot + Rio,’ also released in 1996, is a contemporary tribute to Bossa Nova, in particular the music of the great composer and arranger Antonio Carlos Jobim. ‘Red Hot + Latin: Silencio = Muerte,’ was originally released in 1997. The pairing of artists like David Byrne and Cafe Tacuba reflected a cultural encounter far ahead of its time. ‘Red Hot + Rhapsody,’ released in 1998, is a contemporary tribute to the classic George Gershwin songs. ‘Red Hot + Indigo,’ released in 2000, is a tribute to the legacy of Duke Ellington. Red Hot + Riot, released in 2002,  is a tribute to the great songs of Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It combines contemporary musicians from across the African diaspora, urban America, Brazil, Cuba, Europe and West Africa, including his son, Femi Kuti, and drummer, Tony Allen, along with a cross-section of some of the most creative musicians in the world.

In 2009, Red Hot released ‘Dark Was The Night,’ an indie rock album that generated donations of over $1 million, featuring Andrew Bird, Dirty Projectors, The National, Colin Meloy, David Sitek and Yeasayer – plus more from David Byrne, Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Feist. It features exclusive recordings by a number of independent artists and production by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National. The title is derived from the Blind Willie Johnson song ‘Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,’ which is covered on this collection by the Kronos Quartet.

In 2010, The Red Hot series released ‘Red Hot + New Orleans,’ featuring Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Marc Broussard, Ivan Neville, Mannie Fresh, and Phil and Keith Frazier. In 2011, RHO released ‘Red Hot + Rio 2,’ produced by Béco Dranoff, John Carlin, and Paul Heck. Consisting of 34 original recordings featuring collaborations involving over 60 international and Brazilian stars (including John Legend, Caetano Veloso, Seu Jorge, Beirut, Bebel Gilberto, Of Montreal, and Aloe Blacc), ‘RIO 2’ is a tribute to the influential Tropicália movement that rocked Brazil’s cultural and political landscape in the late 1960s and the artist who envisioned it, such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Gal Costa, and Os Mutantes.


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