MUSICIANS from as far afield as Poland, India and Bahrain have linked up with a Pencaitland composer to create a special track in response to the coronavirus.

Classical guitarist Simon Thacker has brought together 19 international performers for a reimagining of the classic song We Shall Overcome.

Simon’s version of the track aims to provide an international message of solidarity in the time of Covid-19.

He said: “It is an iconic song. It started life as a Gospel song and became a seminal part of the civil rights movement.

“It took on another life in different countries.

“In Bengal it is known as Amra Korbo Joy and is one of those songs where everybody knows it.”

The former Knox Academy pupil was looking to create a track that would celebrate the unique possibilities of a diverse ensemble, from nine countries.

East Lothian Courier:

We Shall Overcome features a vocal line-up of Paban Das Baul, Parvathy Baul, Raju Das Baul and Farida Yesmin from the Bengali Baul spiritual tradition of India and Bangladesh, Polish artist Anna Witczak-Czerniawska, Indian singer-songwriter Raghu Dixit, Bangladeshi folk singer Prokash, Pakistani classical singers Javed Bashir and Akbar Ali, and Persian classical singer Farzad Moradi.

Each of the five verses is preceded by instrumental interaction between Simon on classical guitar, Jehad Al Halal (cello) and Salah Alawi Sharakhat (bass) from Bahrain, Bangladeshi flautist Mainuddin Khan Sayonto, Chennai-based tabla maestro Praveen Narayan, Rubin Shrestha (flute) and Siddhartha Maharjan (percussion) from Nepal, and Iranian qanun exponent Yasaman Najmeddin.

The global pandemic has impacted upon musicians’ livelihoods, with Simon touring South Asia each winter.

That looks unlikely this year and so the 41-year-old reached out to some friends to create the track.

He said: “I’ve worked with South Asian musicians for many years and it has been a fundamental part of what I have done for over a decade.

“I was talking to some friends and it just struck us.

“Everybody is feeling a bit down through lockdown, and this is a very unusual situation we are having to deal with, so a really great way to show solidarity is to have musicians from across the world come together.”

East Lothian Courier:

The East Lothian musician was due to be performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe throughout August, with 15 concerts planned.

Those has been shelved because of the pandemic, with it unclear when musicians will be able to perform to a live crowd again.

Simon was confident the pandemic would not stop people flourishing creatively, regardless of distance.

However, from a financial and economic point of view it was a different story.

He told the Courier: “My August was full and is now empty.

“In the long-term, I will be honest, and every musician, photographer, videographer and everyone is saying the same thing; it is looking pretty devastating without governmental support.”

To listen to the track, go to