Can Music Change The World? [AUDIO, VIDEO]
Nashville drummer Tom Larson, and New Orleans academic/personality Andrew Ward had become increasingly dismayed at the way the world, especially the Islamic world, perceived the United States. Both drew on their wealth of experiences of living and working overseas to create what they call a ‘sonic love letter’ of their favorite gospel songs that would be most appropriate in Pakistan.
They call their band Wahida, which in Urdu and Arabic, means Unity or Oneness.
Ward spent two years translating the songs from English into Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. They were careful not to mention hellfire, attempts at conversion, or even Jesus. The songs were chosen based on their ability to convey the joyful spirit of praise, love and compassion common in all of us.
In eleven tracks, they manage to incorporate three languages, five distinct musical styles, and 20 incredible artists on renditions of ‘You Are My Sunshine’, ‘Over In The Glory Land’, and ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’.
Over the years, there have been a number of artists who have stood for their causes from U2’s Bono and his One Campaign to fight poverty and preventable disease in Africa; USA for Africa, led by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie recorded ‘We Are The World’ in 1985 for the same cause; Bob Geldof is probably better known for his activism rather than his work with the Boomtown Rats as he was the man behind Band Aid, which recorded ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ with an all-atar group for the impoverished in Africa, then went on to coordinate Live Aid for the cause as well. Beatle George Harrison had the Concert For Bangladesh to raise awareness and fund aid efforts for the people of east Pakistan affected by a hurricane and civil war related atrocities. Elton John has been an outspoken fundraiser for AIDS awareness. The list goes on and on in the music for causes efforts. But Wahida is a little different.
The U.S. State Department has given a copy of this release to every diplomat in the Middle East to play, to learn, and to bridge the gap between cultures. Nothing like this has ever been released in any part of our planet and is sure to engender peace and understanding than any ongoing effort to show at the heart of it all, we are all one people. Will Wahida take their place alongside such musical visionaries such as John Lennon and Bob Marley? Only time will tell, but as a world, we definitely need it.
Here’s Wahida doing ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’ with Blues guitarist Scott Holt lending his talents.