"This is our time to soar," says Gladys Knight, "the time we've been waiting for." The 2002 Olympics are now less than three months away, "and this is our time to burn our torch light before the world."

Knight sings those lyrics on "Light Up the Land," an official Olympic commemorative CD filled with inspirational music that is being released around the country Tuesday. She was in Salt Lake for a preview held at the Grand America Hotel Monday afternoon.

"I'm so excited to be part of this project," she said. The Olympics, and the CD's music, "speak to what we should be promoting. I hope this song will touch the spirit, touch the heart."

Knight's song, with lyrics by her husband, William McDowell, is one of 16 on the CD, all of which feature a Utah connection, either as artist or songwriter. Performing are SHeDAISY, Marshall Dyllon, Shawn King, Brooks & Dunn (a song written by Orrin Hatch and Janice Kapp Perry), Donny Osmond, Paul Engemann and a children's choir, Peter Breinholt, Marie Osmond, Northern Voices, Julie de Azevedo, exBand, McCoslyn & Paye, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Kurt Bestor & Sam Cardon and Jenny Jordan.

Nine of the 16 were written specifically for this project, said Greg Ericksen, president of r3 Media, which produced the CD. The others were chosen because they fit the theme so well. The CD sells for $16.99. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Olympics.

"The hardest thing was deciding who would be included; there is so much talent in this state. And it just puts tingles down your spine to put this kind of music out to the world," Ericksen said.

Music was submitted by the artists, and the selection was made with the help of people in the radio and music industry as well as the Olympic committee, Ericksen said. "We only had four months, and it all came together in the most incredible way."

Take "Everyday Heroes," the Hatch/Perry song, for example. At the last minute, they heard that Brooks & Dunn would record it, "and within three days, it was done. That's amazing in this business," Ericksen said.

"I'm really proud to be on this album," Hatch said. "Every song builds up America; every song makes a difference in lives; every song inspires."

In view of recent events, Hatch took time to assure the audience that Utah's Olympics will be safe, that money and time and energy are being spent to ensure security. "This will be the safest place on the planet during the Olympics."

Marie Osmond's "From God's Arms, To My Arms, To Yours," which talks about adoption, is also included on the CD. "You know some of my children are adopted — I can't remember which ones," she said. And the song has kind of a different twist, "but America is a land of adoption; people came here from all over."

The diversity of the selections is what excites Peter Breinholt. "There's everything from folk and country to pop and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And there are people from the Osmonds to Utah guys that no one's heard of, who've not appeared on the national radar screen yet."

Dan Cahoon, the Utah member of the bright, new country group, Marshall Dyllon, noted that he was in sixth grade when it was announced that Utah got the Olympics. "I'm so, so excited to be part of this. It's a dream come true."

And that, said Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney, is what it's all about. These songs, he said, remind us of what it takes to do our best, to be our best. "They remind us of the power of these Games and the power of our land. The Olympics are not just a celebration of athletes, but a celebration of the spirit."


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