Just in time for China's moment in the spotlight, some of the biggest voices in showbiz are taking another stand on behalf of Tibet.
Sting, John Mayer and Dave Matthews are among the rockers lending their musicianship to Songs for Tibet, an all-star album intended to draw more attention to the Asian province's ongoing struggle for national sovereignty.
The album, which will also feature tunes by Alanis Morissette, Moby and Garbage, will have a global release on iTunes Aug. 5, three days before the 2008 Summer Olympics get underway in Beijing. Hard copies will hit stores Aug. 12.
"We wanted to express our support for the Tibetan people and their message of peace through music, a fundamental means of expression, at a time when the eyes of the world are on China," said the Art of Peace Foundation's Michael Wohl, whose Dalai Lama-supporting nonprofit is behind the CD project.
Also on the track list are songs from Rush, Suzanne Vega, Imogen Heap, Damien Rice, Underworld and Duncan Sheik.
"The commitment and enthusiasm from such a wide group of artists has been astonishing and truly heartfelt. It's been exciting orchestrating such an historic project," album producer Rupert Hine said.
Wohl added, "This album will focus people's attention on the importance of Tibet, the gifts of its culture, and the crisis the Tibetan people are facing today."
And yes, the timing of Songs for Tibet's release was deliberate, he said.
In addition to being the culmination of four years—or lifetimes—of training for thousands of athletes from all over the world, this year's Olympics has been the most controversial since the Cold War-era Moscow Games, which the U.S. and others chose to boycott in 1980.
China has been questioned from all sides about a range of issues, from its air pollution to its human-rights record to its ties to the Sudanese government.
Steven Spielberg stepped down from his role as artistic adviser of the Beijing Olympics earlier this year in opposition to China's relationship with Sudan despite the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
In March, both Björk and the seemingly less-controversial Harry Connick Jr. were both told to keep a lid on it—Björk after she shouted pro-Tibet sentiments during a concert in Shanghai, and Connick before he'd even sung a word.
Shortly after Björk was denounced for "turning a commercial show into a political performance," censors forced the New Orleans-bred crooner to revise his set list after certain songs on the original list were deemed off-limits.
China has ruled Tibet since 1951, an arrangement that, according to critics, has resulted in widespread political, religious and cultural oppression.
As many as 250 people were reported killed during a government crackdown in March that resulted in widespread rioting. Chinese officials have said that its forces killed no more than one person, and that TIbetan rioters were responsible for at least 21 deaths.