There has been a lot of excitement around the QB office recently. Baplink’s Tony Doevendans has experienced an amazing few months. We know Tony can sing, and now the rest of the world does too! He was selected by a casting agent earlier this year to front a band of people with disabilities who went on to make an amazing video to promote the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
As reported in the UK Telegraph: ‘Assembling the enormous cast for the three-minute trail … was a Herculean task. “Once we had the idea, sourcing people became a massive challenge,” says Alice Tonge, Creative Director of 4creative, Channel 4’s in-house creative agency, who began work on the film in the summer of 2015. “There simply aren’t enough disabled stars out there, so our researchers ended up burying themselves in the internet scouring for links to videos.”
‘The fruit of one such deep-dive was the advert’s main star, Tony Doevendans (also known as Tony Dee), the wheelchair-bound lead singer of The Superhumans Band, who was discovered on YouTube. There was a clip of him singing an old Sinatra song that his wife posted. It only had a few hundred views, but we got in touch with him and the rest is history,” Tonge says. With the rest of the band, Doevendans recorded his version of Yes I Can, a song chosen for its uplifting message and apposite lyrics at Abbey Road Studios’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/paralympic-sport/2016/07/14/return-of-the-superhumans-behind-the-scenes-of-channel-4s-2016-p/).
Tony is now back at his desk in the Baplink office but plans to keep on singing whenever he can. Born with Spina Bifida and confined to a wheel-chair as a result, Tony’s faith in Jesus Christ and his passion for living life to the full shine through. Commenting on his experiences he said:
‘For most of May this year, my wife, Caroline, and I were in the United Kingdom, recording and being filmed for the advertising campaign. The first full day in London was spent in the recording studio laying down the vocals for the theme song. This was done at Battersea Park Studios, a place frequented by groups such as Duran Duran. In fact, I used the same microphone as Simon le Bon, Duran Duran’s lead singer.
‘I joined a dozen other musicians who all have disabilities—paralysis, visual impairment, missing limbs, to name a few. These players are extremely accomplished and they had the opportunity to record their parts at the famous Abbey Road Studios. I got to observe from the control room, then get pictures taken on the studio floor with equipment that was used by the Beatles.
‘Also involved were many paralympians from Team GB (Great Britain) and regular people, who in one way or another have overcome disability to become mums, pilots, business people and graduates. In all, 140 people with some form of impairment were cast in the ad.
‘Filming (for me) involved 12 days of active shooting and about the same number of days were available to see the sights of London. The theme song is a jazzy tune, Yes I Can originally performed by Sammy Davis, Jr. The message is simple—no matter the challenges or how ‘ordinary’ a person may be, they can accomplish great things. I see this as a spiritual message as well, because I believe that God puts us on earth for a purpose and that purpose is achievable through partnership with Him.’
At the time of writing, the commercial has been viewed more than 2,750,000 times on YouTube, and Channel 4’s Facebook page has 26,811,875 views! The reviews have been very favourable, and since returning home, Tony has already done a number of interviews on TV, radio and the Internet. The song has been released as a single by Decca Records on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon in the UK and Ireland, with hopefully more countries to follow.
If you have not yet seen the video, please check it out on YouTube or on Channel 4’s Facebook page, or simply search for ‘yes I can paralympics’. You won’t be disappointed. Well done Tony! We are all very excited for you!