When Yank Barry belted out ‘Louie, Louie’ more than 40 years ago as lead singer for The Kingsmen, he had no idea the song would become the cultural phenomenon that it has.
And never did the Canadian-born Barry expect to be nominated for the uber prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.
As he sits in his Sarasota offices, managing his frenetic world, Barry, who’s Jewish, has Shpilkes because he could win the big prize.
“It’s an absolute honor to be nominated,” says Barry. “It’s a bit overwhelming to think about it. I never set out to be recognized like this. I’m simply doing something I truly believe in.”
Barry is a rock star of sorts in foreign countries—especially where there’s a hunger crisis.
He co-founded and funded Global Village Champions Foundation (http://www.gogvc.com/), a not for profit that has fed 900-million meals to starving people worldwide—many of them Muslims.
A recent headline in a Bulgarian newspaper: “The Jew Who Feeds Muslims.”
The irony is not lost.
This year Global Village expects to reach the one billion meals mark.
And since his days as the “Louie, Louie” singer Barry has evolved into a very successful businessman and humanitarian.
In 2006, Barry risked his life and quietly met with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to secure the release of the “Benghazi Six” hostages.
While everyone is talking about “Argo,” the Ben Affleck film that won Best Picture, Barry lived a real drama that most people aren’t even aware of—at least not yet.
To say that Barry’s life is a book or movie in the making would be an understatement.
At 65, he faces the very real prospect of walking away with the Nobel Peace Prize—which would put him into the same esteemed company as President Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Unlike the Academy Awards which blasts the names of nominees as only Hollywood can, it doesn’t work that way with the Nobel Peace Prize.
In fact, nominees rarely know they’ve been nominated.
And the only way to find out is if the person or people who make the nomination say so.
Only a handful of people worldwide are qualified to submit a name for nomination.
(Watch: Manny Pacquiáo nominates Yank Barry for Nobel Peace Price)
In Barry’s case, Manny Pacquiáo, the champion boxer and current elected politician in the Philippines, did just that. And so did Gov. Chavit Singson also from the Philippines.
Barry recently returned from the Philippines after spending a week there giving assistance to typhoon victims which battered southern Philippines late last year and claimed the lives of more than 1,000.
(Watch: News coverage of Yank Barry and Evander Holyfield in the Philippines)
Barry has never sought the limelight. He does what he does quietly because he wants to. And in every country outside the United States, his efforts have generated press coverage but curiously, not in the United States, where Barry spends at least part of his time. He has homes in the Bahamas, Thailand, Israel and the U.S.
“I’ve discovered that the U.S. media does not spend a lot of time talking about international plights in countries where English is a foreign language,” says Barry. “It’s frustrating because there are so many people hurting and Americans care. But all I can do is keep doing what I’m doing and feeding as many people as we can.”
Even as Global Village approaches the one billion mark, Barry acknowledges that he is feeding just a fraction of the starving people out there.
From Louie, Louie to Nobel Peace Prize nominee
Barry started as the lead singer of The Footprints in 1965 before becoming lead vocals for The Kingsmen, known for their chart topping hit “Louie Louie,” from 1968-70.
Since then Barry has pioneered the first quadraphonic album, jammed with Jimi Hendrix and wrote and produced for artists like Gary U.S. Bonds, Tom Jones, and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Barry also went on to record other notable musical works such as rock opera “The Diary of Mr. Gray,” which he recorded to raise money for drug prevention and is featured in the Museum of Canadian Music, and “Welcome Home P.O.W.s,” a piece commissioned by then President Richard Nixon for Barry to write and compose.
And along the way he created VitaPro, a global leader in soy based nutritious alternatives to meat.
Although he loved music, feeding and helping people brings him peace. He decided in 1990 to re-tune his track and mix VitaPro with his interest in feeding the hungry.
In 1995, Barry along with his friend and boxing legend Muhammad Ali, established Global Village Champions Foundation and began as Barry described, a “grueling yet rewarding” expedition of ending world hunger.
The combination of personality, influential friendships, and a successful business has provided essential nutrients to the world, while contributing nearly 60 percent of VitaPro’s profit to the Global Village charity.
“I always knew that the music career could catapult me to a greater purpose,” says Barry. “I have met a lot of great people from that time and they have all been instrumental in helping to feed over 910 million starving people. That is what it is all about. If I win the Nobel Peace Prize, it would be a great honor, but all of these awards are a tribute to our team of Villagers and their dedication for assisting those less fortunate.”
Along with receiving his second Nobel Peace Prize nomination, Barry has won over 20 national and international humanitarian awards that includes: India Humanitarian Service Award, Juarez Mexico Hands of Love and Hope Award, Gusi Peace Prize for Social Services, Red Cross Humanitarian Award and Philanthropist of the Year at the GLA 2011 Awards.
While feeding the hungry is his charity’s main mission, Barry’s friend, 5-time Heavyweight Boxing Champion and Global Village Champion Ambassador Evander Holyfield says there is more to Barry than that.
“Yank has extended his big heart to help right situations that he believes is wrong,” says Holyfield, who recently returned from the Philippines after travelling there with Barry to provide assistance to typhoon victims. “The man has that drive, determination, and focus of a fighter, and he uses that to win the tough battles.”
One of those tough battles occurred in Libya when then leader Muammar Gaddafi imprisoned five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor (better known as the “Benghazi Six”) in 1999. During that time, the “Benghazi Six” were twice sentenced to death for an outbreak of HIV that originated from their hospital.
In 2006, Barry met with the Gaddafi in an attempt to convince the dictator that the punishment was not justified. Months after the meeting, the “Benghazi Six” were released from incarceration and allowed to return home.
“In more words, I told [Gaddafi] he needs to do the right thing.” Barry revealed about his months-long conversations with the Libyan ruler. “I was part of an international effort to resolve the issue, and feel blessed to have contributed to helping those six people regain their freedom.”
The work did not end there for the Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
“It never does with Yank,” Holyfield says, “he just moves on from his latest triumph to the next tragedy.”
Barry was one of the first responders of aid for Haiti after the devastating 7.0 earthquake in 2010 that claimed the lives of 220,000 people, injuring 300,000 more, while leaving over 600,000 Haitians homeless.
A year later, Barry quickly reacted to the destruction that ensued after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Pacific Ocean, creating a tsunami that reached Japan. The disaster killed an estimated 15,870 people and 343,000 more forced to relocate to temporary homes.
In each case, Barry rounded up the villagers along with food and other vital supplies, aiding thousands of victims in the process.
The Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded until October, and the other nominations are kept secret for 50 years, or until someone publicly releases their nomination. Win or lose, Barry says he is nowhere near the end of his mission.
“I am not doing these things for the awards, for the recognition; I, along with all my great helpers, are doing because it’s the right thing to do,” says Barry. “Even if I end up winning the Nobel Peace Prize, there are still wrongs to be righted, and more starving people for Global Village to feed.”
Holyfield believes that Barry’s words are not to be politically correct, either.
“You look at everything he has done for other people, less fortunate people, and you know it’s because of his heavy heart, not for the hope that he wins an award.”
In the meantime, Barry says that his current mission is to negotiate the release of wrongly imprisoned Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and continue to complete his goal of everyone in the world enjoying a day without hunger.
But according to Holyfield, “even then Yank won’t be done. It’ll be the start of a new chapter.”
Follow Yank Barry on Twitter: @YankBarry
SOURCE: Global Village Champions Foundation
This press release is distributed by PR NewsChannel. Your News. Everywhere.