Corey Hart debuts new single

Canadian heartthrob Corey Hart took a 14-year hiatus from the music industry. (Jack Boland/QMI...

Canadian heartthrob Corey Hart took a 14-year hiatus from the music industry. (Jack Boland/QMI Agency)

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:06 PM ET

The truth, in a way, has set Corey Hart free.

Certainly, the '80s-era Montreal pop singer-songwriter-heartthrob behind I Wear My Sunglasses at Night and Never Surrender, has resurfaced after a long absence with his first new single, Truth Will Set U Free featuring 1Love (fledgling Kingston, Ont., deejay Paul Todd), in Canada in 14 years (and 20 years in the U.S.).

In fact, it's a club remix of an old song, Truth Will Set You Free, from Hart's fourth album, 1988's Young Man Running, that he wrote about three gay people in his life struggling with their sexuality and dealing with discrimination. Hart responded emotionally when he first got a letter from Todd last October asking to use it.

The deejay, born on the same day as Hart ten years later, was a struggling father of four who still drives a cab to make ends meet with a hardscrabble upbringing that included losing his dad in a car accident at age two, a drug-and-alcohol-addicted mother and two half-siblings he didn't know about until recently.

"I was very intrigued that someone would have picked that song," said Hart, 50, who has turned down everyone from P. Diddy to Nelly Furtado to interpolate his older more famous hits.

"It was too, too much emotional attachment for me to not take it on. No one knew until two months ago what the real undertone message of the song was because no one had ever asked me. The message was written for the LGBT community. "

When the record company couldn't find Hart's master vocals of the original song, he went into a recording studio and re-recorded it, adding new lyrics to reference the 1998 beating death of Matthew Shepard.

"I thought, 'Wow, I wish Truth Will Set U Free could have been out there, maybe it would have been a song to give some people some hope and some strength,' " said Hart, on a couch in his Toronto hotel room Friday morning. "And especially coming from someone that's heterosexual, that's straight, that is showing an empathy and a compassion and an understanding."

Hart is also playing two live shows starting with Toronto's Pride event on Saturday night (June 30) and in London's Pride on July 7.

"I think it was important that if I'm going to make a statement that I stand behind it physically and in every capacity that an artist can which is to go on stage and perform," said Hart, who's also hoping to appear on Ellen in September but has no plans to resume his music career beyond songwriting.

The T.O. show will be his first live performance in ten years since his two farewell gigs with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 2002.

"I decided after the birth of my third daughter that I was not going to tour and record anymore and I haven't," said Hart, whose own father wasn't a presence after his parents divorced at age 10.

Hart has long divided his time between homes in the Bahamas and Spain with his wife (and fellow Quebecer) Julie Masse and their four children, including 12-year-old tennis star River.

"She'll be kicking butt in five years," he says of River. "She's one of the top juniors in Europe right now."


Photos