|Yank Barry and Muhammad Ali featured with Gusi Peace Prize 2011|
Monday, March 12, 2012
Published Friday, March 9th, 2012
BRADENTON - In a 30-year music career, Yank Barry jammed on stage with Jimi Hendrix, wrote and produced songs for Gary U.S. Bonds and was a member of legendary band The Kingsmen of "Louie, Louie" fame.
The post-music career for the part-time Bradenton resident has been equally spectacular: he co-founded a nonprofit group with Muhammad Ali that has donated more than 500 million meals to relief agencies; and he spearheaded relief missions to disaster and war-torn countries.
Now, the 64-year-old has been nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work and his role in securing the release of six foreign medical workers sentenced to death in Libya.
Barry said he was nominated by Kiril Gorianov, a Bulgarian national. Gorianov cited Barry for his humanitarian work but also for his efforts to secure the release of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who faced the death penalty after a court found them guilty of spreading the HIV virus after an 1998 outbreak in a Libyan hospital.
Barry met with Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi about half a dozen times over a period of six months in 2006. "I said to him, 'I'm Jewish and I'm here begging for the lives of five Christians and a Palestinian. You've got to do the right thing here,'" Barry said.
Barry said there were many other international efforts that led to the six being released in 2007.
Speaking from Japan, where he is negotiating with government officials to supply apple pectin to people who may have been exposed to radiation from the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Barry said it was humbling that his relief work has been acknowledged.
"It's a nice feeling to be recognized, but that's not why I'm doing it," he said. "It's become a mission that I believe in."
First awarded in 1901, the Nobel Prize for Peace is widely regarded to be the most prestigious award of its kind.
Born in Montreal, Barry became a touring member of The Kingsmen in 1968. He pioneered the first quadraphonic album in 1970 and then then recorded the rock opera "The Diary of Mr. Gray."
He later moved into songwriting and production, working with numerous artists, including Englebert Humperdinck.
As his music career was scaling down, he met a businessman in South Africa who had developed a dehydrated meat-substitute soy product. Barry bought the product and began selling it to penal systems and governments. The business thrived.
As Barry traveled the world, he saw firsthand how his product could help countries struggling with malnutrition. With boxing great Muhammad Ali, he formed Global Village Champions Foundation. Barry now donates about 60 percent of the profits from his soy company to the nonprofit, using it for donated meals and work with groups like the Salvation Army in the United States and the Red Cross and the United Nations in Africa, Asia, Europe and Central America.
"Ali and I had always talked about feeding kids. We started doing a lot of good; it become pretty addictive," he said. It's a great feeling. I think everyone should do it."
Barry's work has already earned him more than 20 international humanitarian and peace awards including a 1999 Liberian Humanitarian award and the 2010 Gusi Peace Prize. In 2005, he was named as a Red Cross Humanitarian.
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