A great song is more than the sum of its parts, more than a catchy chorus, infectious rhythms, and a memorable hook. A great song can transport the listener to another time, a foreign place, and even into the role of another person. This is precisely the power behind many of Bryan Adams’ most revered songs, an essence of simplicity and effortlessness with the power to crystallize emotions and moments. His understanding and empathy towards the human experience is ever expanding, and his songs have taken on topics as diverse as love, loss, nationalistic pride, and issues of social inequality. Both in his songs and in his skin, Bryan Adams is a man of action – and he wants his listeners to join him in answering the call on a universal level.
Although Adams is famously Canadian-born, his upbringing sheds some light on how his interests in international causes developed. His father was a member of the Canadian Army and a diplomat, which allowed Adams to visit much of Europe and the Middle East as a boy. He experienced and found inspiration in popular music from all over the world. By the time he was a teenager, he had set his mind on paving a path into the music business. Before long, Adams had made a name for himself and earned a recording contract with A&M records, although his sign-on fee was a paltry one dollar. It is evident that Adams was able to turn that dollar and the accompanying opportunity into the stuff of legend. To date, Adams has sold over one hundred million albums worldwide, been nominated for 15 Grammy Awards, and is one of the best selling Canadian musicians of all time. Songs like “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” and “Summer of ‘69” have become international pop standards and have led Adams to tour all over the world. He has collaborated with or played alongside artists like Tina Turner, U2, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Elton John, George Harrison, and Prince, to name but a few.
Even more impressive and ambitious than his growing repertory is Adams’ dedication to social activism. In addition to playing highly profiled charitable events like Live Aid, Amnesty International, and Farm Aid, Adams has brought his music to ground zero as much as possible. He joined Roger Waters to perform The Wall when the Berlin Wall was torn down. Adams was the first Western musician to perform in Karachi, Pakistan after the attacks of September 11, 2001, with proceeds from the concert offered to Pakistani schools and youth educational programs, as well as to earthquake survivors. He was also the first international artist to play a concert in the Republic of Nepal. He performed in support of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami victims, Palestinian refugees, and for London’s underprivileged and abused children. In addition to these performances and fundraising efforts, The Bryan Adams Foundation was established to champion numerous causes in youth education all over the world.
Adams’ passion towards improving the well being of others continues to inspire. He has a fearless, sometimes dutiful approach to his life as a musician, and he has become a diplomat in his own right. In 2006, he was appointed to the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia for his contribution to popular music and charitable efforts. In 2010, he co-wrote and performed a song entitled “Bang the Drum” for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, a fitting honor from his native country on an international stage. Even so, Adams’ greatest legacy rests in the work he has done outside of the limelight, in helping others build roads to a brighter future. He shows no signs of slowing down.