Artists United Against Apartheid

Artists United Against Apartheid

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Artists United Against Apartheid

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Artists United Against Apartheid was a 1985 protest group founded by activist and performer Steven Van Zandt and record producer Arthur Baker to protest apartheid in South Africa. The group produced the song "Sun City" and the album Sun City that year.

Sun City

Van Zandt, who had parted with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at the height of their success to go out on his own, traveled to South Africa to research his next record. He was interested in South Africa because he had read that the apartheid system was actually modeled after America's system of Indian reservations, an issue that was his major passion. While in South Africa, he was distressed by a place called Sun City, an interracial gambling resort located in a bantustan, a nominally independent area supposedly ruled by black Africans, in the middle of an impoverished rural homeland.

Writing and recording

Van Zandt became interested in writing a song about Sun City to make parallels with the plight of native Americans. Danny Schechter, a journalist who was then working with ABC News' 20/20, suggested turning the song into a different kind of "We Are the World", or as Schechter explains, "a song about change not charity, freedom not famine."

When Van Zandt was finished writing "Sun City", he, Schechter and producer Arthur Baker spent the next several months searching for artists to participate in recording it. Van Zandt initially declined to invite Springsteen,...
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