It's a Real 'Kumbaya Moment' - and It's Not What You Think

    Banker-Turned-Singer/Philanthropist IVAN WILZIG Dedicates New Rock Version
    of KUMBAYA to Presidential Hopeful BARACK OBAMA, with Royalties to Fund
    Wilzig's Anti-Hate-Crimes PEACEMAN FOUNDATION

    NEW YORK, July 7 /CNW/ -- In 2001, billionaire commercial banker IVAN
WILZIG traded in his pinstriped suits for a wardrobe of campy "peace capes"
and a new, sincere incarnation as SIR IVAN, a melodious interpreter of 60s
classics with a dance beat. His rocking covers of John Lennon's Imagine and
Scott McKenzie's San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) both scored
big on Billboard's dance charts in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Now, Sir Ivan
is about to release I AM PEACEMAN, a new album of fifteen 60s hits, produced
and arranged by FORD, who has 18 Gold and Platinum singles to his credit. The
release is timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, the 50th
anniversary of the iconic peace symbol and, not coincidentally, the Democratic
Presidential Convention. Sir Ivan, a passionate Obama supporter, has included
his version of Kumbaya, one with an irresistibly groovy beat and a voice-over
of portions of early Obama speeches. Sir Ivan's royalties from the album will
benefit his Peaceman Foundation, dedicated to fighting hate crimes and healing
post-traumatic stress disorder.
    (Photo: )
    Sir Ivan is perfectly aware that even before the early days of the
Democratic primary campaign, when John Edwards dismissed his then-rival as
"the Kumbaya candidate," the word "Kumbaya" had degenerated into an aspersion
integral to political and journalistic cynicism. Indeed, the Internet is
filled with Kumbaya-bashing blogs, and most recently, Obama's appearance in
Unity, New Hampshire, with Hillary Clinton was snidely described by some in
the media as a "Kumbaya moment," while his long-awaited phone conversation
with former President Bill Clinton was deemed "not a Kumbaya moment."
    But the same savvy that shaped Sir Ivan's banking success came to bear
when he decided to feature Kumbaya on his new album (a video is in
production), a version that forsakes some of the original lyrics (Someone's
crying, Lord ... Someone's praying, Lord) with words that echo Barack Obama's
core values (Give them Hope, Lord ... Give them Love). Obama himself, who was
quick to say in 2007 that "The politics of hope is not about holding hands and
singing Kumbaya," told the Chicago Tribune in June, after winning the
nomination, "It's time for Democrats across the nation to come together and
sing Kumbaya before we head into the storm of a formidable general election."
Sir Ivan took to heart writer Eric Zorn's 2006 observation (also in the
Chicago Tribune) that "Kumbaya needs a pop interpreter with a huge voice, a
soulful arranger and the guts to challenge 40 years of patronizing mockery."
    Sir Ivan has answered the call.
    Kumbaya, a traditional African-American Gullah spiritual (the word means
"come by here"), traveled to Angola and back to the USA again before it
matured into a popular scouting/campfire standard, a 60s folk favorite
recorded by Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul & Mary and several others, and
eventually an anthem of the civil rights movement on par with We Shall
Overcome. "It's a beautiful song about closeness and unity that deserves far
more respect than it's received," says Sir Ivan, the socially-conscious son of
a Holocaust survivor who notes that the song was also a 1962 hit by Hasidic
folk master Shlomo Carlebach, better known as The Singing Rabbi.
    Sir Ivan is no singing rabbi, but he was the Honorary Grand Marshall of
this year's Salute to Israel Parade, celebrating his commitment to Jewish
causes by marching in the forefront with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
and New York Governor David Patterson. And Ivan Wilzig aka Sir Ivan aka
Peaceman has an additional alter ego. He participated in the 2007 NBC/Sci-Fi
Channel hit series, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, as "Mr. Mitzvah," a crusader
who, with the aid of his Star of David-emblazoned ping-pong paddle, fights the
purveyors of hate and protects the world's children. Action-comic guru Stan
Lee, the show's producer/judge, personally selected Mr. Mitzvah as one of ten
finalists from among thousands of other super-hopefuls.
    Sir Ivan's sense of whimsy -- further evidenced by his genuine castle
(complete with moat) in the Hamptons and his exaggerated reputation as a party
boy -- has sometimes resulted in his not being perceived as serious a person
as he is. But this man who loves the nightlife actually loves peace and
justice even more. After all, he gave up banking for a life with greater
purpose and a determination to use his resources for the greater good. He has
been a notable supporter of Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation and the
family-endowed Wilzig Hospital in his native New Jersey. With Kumbaya, this
pop culture Renaissance Man hopes to make a meaningful contribution to the
Obama campaign (he has offered the song as a campaign theme) and to a world in
dire need of hope and love -- surely a job for Peaceman, Mr. Mitzvah, Sir
Ivan, or simply, the remarkable Ivan Wilzig. For more information please go to To hear this exclusively please go to

For further information:

For further information: Edward Callaghan - John Wegorzewski &
Associates, Public Relations & Marketing, ALCHIMIA, Southampton
+1-631-283-9130, cell +1-212-729-0834, Web Site:       

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