Charity single for Grenfell Tower released as Simon Cowell donates £100,000

The cover version of Bridge Over Troubled Water, featuring Stormzy, Rita Ora, Robbie Williams and more, will raise money for survivors of the devastating fire – some who appear in a choir on the track

The charity single for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire has been released, featuring a host of British talent covering Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

More than 50 stars, including Robbie Williams, Rita Ora and Roger Daltrey were assembled by Simon Cowell to record the song last weekend, following the blaze in the west London tower block that 79 dead, or missing and presumed dead.

Beginning with a Stormzy rap that promises “I refuse to forget you, I refuse to be silenced, I refuse to neglect you,” the track segues into Simon and Garfunkel’s classic ballad of resilience and support.

Rita Ora in New York this week, after recording vocals for the Grenfell Tower charity single.
Rita Ora in New York this week, after recording vocals for the Grenfell Tower charity single. Photograph: Raymond Hall/GC Images

Various singers take on individual lines, from soul stars including Emeli Sandé and Jorja Smith, to rockers like Bastille’s Dan Smith and the Stereophonics’ Kelly Jones. Among the performance Louis Rei, of west London pop-rap group WSTRN, raps: “So much pain in my heart, my community’s moving me, choose to gleam as we’re facing the dark.”

Gareth Malone helped assemble a choir of local residents and survivors who join the soaring chorus, while musicians including Chic’s Nile Rodgers, the Who’s Pete Townshend and Queen’s Brian May add backup. Malone said: “To be frank I don’t care what it sounds like, it’s just about doing something good.”

Sandé has said of the recording: “I hope it shows the power of community and the strength of people. That is the beauty of London, the integration makes it so incredible.” Jones added: “All these things that are happening in London at the minute, and Manchester and everywhere, I think the main thing is people are pulling together.”

Cowell, who has donated £100,000 to the fund benefitting the fire’s victims, told the Mirror: “You kind of think, what can I do? Do you donate some money and I was thinking, well maybe we could do a little more than that ... In all the years of doing this I have never felt so emotional. It was unbelievably powerful and sincere.”

The song has been released one week on from the fire, and comes in tandem with a day of protest at the government’s response to the tragedy. Horror and sorrow last week quickly turned to anger aimed at Theresa May for her leaden response and for failing to meet survivors, and at building contractors whose choice of cladding in a recent refurbishment could have contributed to the spread of the fire.

Bridge Over Troubled Water is available to purchase on iTunes, and is also streaming on Apple Music and Spotify.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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