Yoko Ono, the former wife of ex-Beatle John Lennon, along with the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am and pop singer Natasha Bedingfield, has unveiled the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The traveling high-tech tour bus, decked out with instruments and top-of-the-line recording equipment, has a lofty aim: To teach children, who might attend schools with reduced arts education, about the joys of music.
"The bus is a mobile recording studio, and it travels the entire U.S. and parts of Canada for 10½ months of the year nonstop," said Brian Rothschild, executive director and co-founder of the project, at a press conference this week. "We have three crew members. ... They get onboard the bus, and they work with our students."
The project began 12 years ago when co-founder Rothschild approached Ono with the idea. Over the years, Ono has received many requests to put Lennon's name on a project. Usually, she said no, but this project passed muster, she told ABCNEWS.com.
"I'm so used to saying no. So many people come to me to use John's name mostly to do with making money, and I always feel that if I'm going to say yes to using John's name and likeness, it has to do something with more than — something with spiritual awareness, changing the world for the better," Ono said. "This one was right on because it was about children, and I really thought it was a great idea."
Organizers hope that the newest bus, which includes high-definition video equipment and robotic cameras from Sony, will be just the beginning of potential expansion to China, Africa, India and South America.
"When they came to me 10 years ago, I really thought global because you just know that it's such a strong program that it should go global and I think that will happen," Ono said.
Bedingfield was also enthusiastic about the potential impact of the bus on children.
"I spent yesterday on the bus, and it is amazing," she told a crowd after performing her hit song. "So many kids, it's going to be their dream. I got my start in the studio because my friends had a little home studio and they let me just come on and get involved. The best way to learn is just hands-on."
Ono: Revered and Reviled
NAMM, the International Music Products Association, presented Yoko with its highest honor, but Lennon's wife, who is often blamed for the breakup of the Beatles, is used to being treated with reverence — and disdain.
"I think there's still a lot of prejudice about Las Vegas. Well, there's a lot prejudice about Yoko Ono," Ono said.
She said that she enjoyed being oded in Bare Naked Ladies' "Be My Yoko Ono."
"It's great. It's nice. It's like I'm being honored, I think, by the younger indie music, which I really like," she said.
The well-traveled Ono, who will be 75 in February, said that since she turned 70 she's visited more than 90 cities around the world.
"I've got 10 different things that are going on, of course. ... I did some show in Paris, then I went to Venice, Berlin and Iceland, and then after that I went to Brazil ... and then Tokyo," she said.
Ono said that her 70s have been a great adventure.
"We'll, I'm going to be 75 in a month. Isn't that great?" she asked. "I'm surprised that people don't tell you that it's going to be good after 70, and I think it's pretty good. I love it."
"If you want to do something but you can't, don't worry, you can just do it when you're 75."