We Can Be Heroes, DC Entertainment's campaign to end the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, received a helping hand in the fight against famine last night when Chris Daughtry -- 2006 "American Idol" finalist and lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist for the band "Daughtry" -- officially announced his partnership with the company as an ambassador for the humanitarian effort.
During his band's live performance at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, Daughtry told the enthusiastic audience that an acoustic version of his song "Rescue Me" will be available for purchase on iTunes this summer with all net proceeds going to We Can Be Heroes. Following his speech, the musician performed the never-before heard acoustic song while an image of DC's superheroes was projected onstage.
"Historically speaking, our fans have always latched onto whatever we supported, which is why we always feel like we have to have something good to say -- we have this platform, we might as well use it for good," Daughtry said, speaking one on one with CBR News just hours before taking the stage.
Sitting down with CBR at the Burbank DC Entertainment offices, Daughtry explained that his involvement with We Can Be Heroes came partly out of his love of comic books and partly from his friendship with Jim Lee, the Co-Publisher of DC Entertainment and artist for the ongoing "Justice League" comic book series.
"[Jim] presented me with this idea; he knew how much of a fan I was and said, 'Hey, we're going to be unrolling this huge campaign.' I'm always up for helping any way we can with charities and it just seemed like it made sense," Daughtry told us. "So we kind of brainstormed together and figured out, well, what does that look like, what can we do that makes sense for us as a rock band?"
Naturally, what came to mind was to sing a song about it -- and not just any song, but "Rescue Me," Daughtry's anthem to making a difference from his 2011 "Break The Spell" album.
"We already had a song called 'Rescue Me' that, to me, felt like the message was there and it said what we wanted to do. We wanted to rescue these people," Daughtry said. "When we originally wrote the song, myself and my guitar player Josh Steely wrote it with the idea of it being bigger than just being a song; it felt like something that was going to bring people together."
Explaining that the two composed the song in the wake of 2011's natural disasters and the Arab Spring, the ex-"American Idol" contestant said, "We always felt, with so much heartache and hurt in the world, this song has to be some sort of relief to that, or some sort of statement to speak to people who are hurting or going through something like that, to maybe provide some sort of hope...So when this came along, we went, 'This is the perfect song for it.'"
In addition to the song, Daughtry, who is also an artist, contributed a drawing to DC's Darkness & Light benefit, penciling an image of Batman that Lee inked and which will be on display at San Diego's Comic-Con International.
"[Jim] said, 'Dude, you got to let me ink it!' I thought he was joking -- because, you know, he has nothing else to do!
"I was a little rusty and felt a little out of practice, so when I was finally done with the penciling I was like, 'Yes, please finish this!'"the rocker added with a laugh.
An avid fan of Lee's for years, Daughtry praised the Co-Publisher's art, unable to fully comprehend his work was going to be inked by the superstar artist. "It just blew my mind, because it was so incredible -- that was the guy who made me want to do comic books as a kid, that was the artist I looked up to, and I couldn't believe he was inking my work."
The rock star traces his love of comic books back to a childhood spent reading Batman comics and watching "The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians" animated Hanna-Barbera show.
"When I was a teenager, it was more about the artwork. It was not necessarily about the stories or which company it was. I found Jim through 'WildC.A.T.S.' and Image Comics; I was a big Image Comics fan, mostly because of the artwork. Jim was certainly, and to this day still is, my favorite artist," Daughtry said. "I literally have never seen anyone who draws like him, and it blows me away. When he went into Batman -- it was just a match made in Heaven when he did 'Hush.'"
Glancing around the DC Entertainment offices, the rocker grinned. "And I'm not just saying that because he's in this building!"
As for how the two finally met and became friends, Daughtry summed it up in one word: MySpace.
"I just got off a tour [after 'American Idol'] and I was looking at some comic books one day and I was like, 'Hmm, now that people know who I am, how easy would it be to get in touch with Jim Lee?' I never used MySpace, but that was the only way it seemed I could get a hold of him. I just messaged him, and he literally called me thirty minutes later," Daughtry recalled with a smile. "We just hit it off and became friends, and the rest is history."
Getting back to the benefit, Daughtry explained that after prior work with other initiatives such as One.org, the hunger crisis in Africa became more than an abstract problem -- it was a crisis he saw up close and personal during a tour of Uganda and South Africa.
"We hear about it and see it on TV, but it's a completely different thing when you witness it first hand. You're two feet in front of the people who are literally dying and living in poverty, famine, having to walk five miles or more for water that's somewhat sanitary," Daughtry said. "We went to South Africa, and there were parts of [Johannesburg] that we went to, orphanages, right outside of a nice area -- and it's complete poverty. It's just mind-blowing.
"When we were able to be a part of the We Can Be Heroes campaign, it feels good to be able to contribute to that and to bring awareness to the masses."
Daughtry says that because of his personal experiences with the problem, his goal for his ambassadorial role in the We Can Be Heroes campaign is simple: to raise both awareness and money for the cause.
"It's not like there's a huge catastrophe that happened or a tsunami or anything like that -- it's literally famine. These people are dying because they have no food, no water," Daughtry said. "That's something that we can help, that's something that we can actually fix. That's what we hope to do."