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False WMD claim inspired title of Lennox CD

The Grammy Award-winning songwriter and political activist is still performing and pressing for change in the world.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

As different as acclaimed singer-songwriter and political activist Annie Lennox is from ordinary women, she shares one thing with mothers everywhere — the ability to embarrass her children.

It’s true, Lennox told TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Natalie Morales in an interview on Rockefeller Plaza on Tuesday. She had told a magazine writer that her teenage daughters, Lola, 16, and Tali, 14, were sometimes embarrassed by her outspokenness.

The girls read that, and, she said, “They were embarrassed. ‘How can you say that? How can you say we’re embarrassed by you?’” she said with a laugh.

Lennox, whom VH1 named “the greatest living white soul singer,” visited TODAY to perform a single from her first solo CD in four years, “Songs of Mass Destruction,” and talk about what she’s been doing while out of the public spotlight.

She leaves on Oct. 8 for a 15-city North American tour to promote the album, which is being released today. The album is No. 2 on Amazon’s pre-release list, behind only Bruce Springsteen’s new CD, “Magic.”

The 52-year-old Lennox, who became enormously popular in 1979 when she teamed with Dave Stewart to form Eurythmics, said she’s been spending much of her time raising her daughters. She has also become committed to fighting HIV-AIDS in South Africa, where, she says, one in three women is HIV-positive.

She said she had been unaware of the situation in that country until several years ago when she went to Cape Town to participate in an event that kicked off Nelson Mandela’s 46664 organization.

Named for Mandela’s prison number while he was incarcerated during South Africa’s apartheid era, 46664 was formed to battle HIV-AIDS and its causes — poverty, lack of education and attitudes toward women.

“When I realized the extent of the genocide that’s going on there with AIDS, it’s just so shocking,” she told Lauer and Morales. “I decided to spread the word and let people know about it.”

She’s also putting her money where her microphone is, donating proceeds from the album to the cause.

Lennox also has done work with the Treatment Action Campaign, which is also fighting for those affected by Africa’s HIV-AIDS epidemic.

One of the songs on “Songs of Mass Destruction,” “Sing,” features 23 of the world’s most famous female singers, including Celine Dion, Madonna, Shakira, Gladys Knight, Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge – “My choir of 23,” as Lennox calls them.

Inspired by WMD claimIn a letter Lennox sent TODAY, she wrote about how the name of her album was inspired by the weapons of mass destruction that were the justification for the invasion of Iraq, weapons that were never found.

“I feel sickened and let down by politicians who say ... ‘If you're not with us you're against us,’” she wrote. “Those people ... voted into power and authority, who have the blind stupidity to endorse the notion that you can solve terrorism by going to war with it.”

She writes that people are the same the world over: “One thing that occurs to me is that we are all fundamentally the same ... no matter what creed, color or culture.  Basically ... in order to live well ... we need to live in peace ... with the opportunity to fulfill our potential goals and dreams but this should not be at the expense of others or the abuse of the planet at large.”

The Scots-born singer has won four Grammys and an Oscar for co-writing “Into the West” for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” and sold nearly 80 million albums.

“I've been an artist and a musician for over thirty years now, and I feel extremely fortunate to have fulfilled my original dream, which was to write, record and perform songs,” she wrote in her letter. “This hasn't changed much. I'm still motivated by that challenge, and ironically right now I feel that I'm artistically in my prime, and at my own cutting edge.”

Whether they say so or not, her daughters must be proud.