Author Archive

difrent launches borderless docuseries

Featured, News Jul 29, 2018 No Comments

difrent is producing a traveling docu-series, borderless, which follows Stephan Said as he searches for amazing music and discovers stories of every day people to the front lines of the world’s most pressing issues. From Iraq to Charlottesville, Refugee Camps to Hurricane Harvey, we’re just getting going! Check out borderless at

Artists Rally With Freemuse In Support of Imprisoned Iranian Artist

Music/Video Sep 22, 2015 No Comments

Iranian musician Arya Aramnejad was recently sentenced to three months in prison because of his song Ali Barkhiz, the video for which you can see above. In a letter to the Iranian authorities, numerous artists are joining Freemuse, the leading organization international organisation which advocates freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide, to express deep concern about the continuous persecution of their colleague, asking for his immediate release. The list includes visual artist Larissa Sansour, producer/artist Deeyah, South African singer-songwriter Roger Lucey, African rapper Outspoken, and rapper and performer Behrang Miri from Stockholm. Visit Freemuse’s website to find out more and learn how you can support this effort.

Malian Artists Unite In Song For Peace with Fatoumata Diawara

Featured Jan 18, 2013 No Comments

Spread this just out track by Fatoumata Diawara and numerous Malian artists including Amadou & Mariam, Vieux Farka Touré Oumou Sangare, Habib Koité, and Toumani Diabate who at this troubled time in their country are raising the voice of peace. Because of their deep tradition of music as a force for social unity and leadership, some of Mali’s greatest artists were instrumental in launching difrent:’s vision of a leading source for music and culture for social change. Now’s the time to lift high their song. See these videos with Amadou & Mariam and Vieux Farka Touré talking about music and social change, and Malian culture, with difrent: from this past year:



Sandy Hook Students Record ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’

Music/Video Jan 17, 2013 No Comments


In a beautiful and moving response to the shootings at their own school last month, 21 young students from Sandy Hook Elementary and another school in Newtown, Connecticut came together to record “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” with the help of singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, and Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of The Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club.  I had a chance to catch up with Chris yesterday about how it all came together.

Downloads of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” are benefitting two organizations chosen by the community itself, Newtown Youth Academy and the United Way of Western Connecticut. Thanks to The Orchard group, who’ve put up a great page helping to publicize the effort, you can support the community by  picking up the mp3 on iTunes, eMusic, and Amazon.

Just one week ago, Chris and Tina got a call from long time activist and CBGB’s booking agent Louise Staley about the idea that she was working on with CBGB’s owner Tim Hayes – to put together a recording with kids from Sandy Hook School. Of course, Chris said they were “happy to help, any way they could.” Together with Newtown music school director Sabrina Post, they brought together a group of kids in their studio.With Sabrina directing, the 21 strong ad hoc chorus tracked to Ingrid’s pre-recorded ukelele and voice for better sound. The rest is history, still writing itself.

As Chris and I spoke, I was struck again by how much things have changed here in the last 15 years since the first school shooting took place at Heath High School in West Paducah, Kentucky in 1997. “We moved out here to Fairfield, Connecticut, which is about 15 miles from Newtown, so we could be some place quieter and safer to raise our kids,” said Chris. We are now looking at some of them going to college and bettering themselves. Thanks to SoFi we are able to afford their tuition.

This smiles in this photo are a testament to one form of immediate impact this had on the participants.

Creating real change starts at community level and this recording is a great synergy between local and widespread reach for impact. I asked Chris if there are plans to deepen the deepen the impact beyond the recording with continued programming, curriculum or events with youth. Right now, the focus is getting it out as far and wide as possible, and getting airplay for the track, which was among top downloads on iTunes on Wednesday.

We at difrent: are strong believers in what producer Tim Hayes says is music’s “power to heal both the listener and the performers,” and hope to see and support efforts to take this conversation with youth into numerous communities. There are times when the most important and effective thing to do isn’t to point fingers, but to lift high an expression of beauty that reaffirms our connection to each other. We wonder what could happen if music that united us filled our radios and TV’s instead of endless reportage on things that divide us. So, we’re even more happy to see the coverage this song is getting, and hope to see it’s impact spread far and wide.

Photos courtesy of Chris Frantz


Peace, Stephan















Pakistan: Music For Education Initiatives

Music/Video Sep 25, 2012 No Comments

While we work on upcoming program in Pakistan, we’re pleased to see this article come out in today’s DAWN News service on music and cultural events being used to fund and promote educational initiatives in the country. Check it out here!

Gaga for Gandhi – Music For Social Change On the Rise

Featured May 05, 2012 No Comments

Over the past couple years, artists, labels, social change movements and development organizations, including governments, have realized the potential of music as a vehicle for empowering, funding, and increasing capacity for initiatives. Reaching a mass audience that’s turned away from the monopolized, cookie cutter music served up by an industry which is falling apart and seems out of step with the global zeitgeist for change, music for social change is becoming ubiquitous.

Since difrent set up its vision anticipating this trend, everyone from The Roots to Lady Gaga, John Legend to Alicia Keys, as well as organizations from Music2Life, MusicUnites, Air Traffic Control, Occupy Musicians and countless other groups and organizations have been ratcheting things up. By celebrating all these individual initiatives, releases, and awareness campaigns, we can create a sustainable, self-funding platform and movement for the global generation, empowering everyone, and giving unprecedented thrust to our joint efforts for a better world. This is difrent:’s vision.

Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, are have now launched the Born This Way Foundation working in collaboration with Harvard’s research team on bullying. Numerous artists are already signed on for a big End Poverty concert in Central Park in September. Ben Harper, Tom Morello, Immortal Technique and others joined Occupiers in Union Square on May Day, joining hundreds of people with guitars and other instruments in a “Guitarmy,” More and more artists across the globe are taking a stand against bigotry and intolerance. Socially conscious artists like Brazilian rapper Emicida, K’naan, and Nigerian rap-tress Nneka are evidence of an increasing trend.

Our individual politics may differ slightly, but one thing we share is the belief that we need systemic change to address the mounting crises in the world, and music has the power to bridge divides to push major change along often long before the political realm is capable. As our top economists and and foreign policy experts from Amartya Sen and Jeff Sachs to Zbigniew Brzezinski are even saying, we need a more equitable world . Together, we can create this shift, whether its in the consciousness that equality and respect for equal rights are the alternative to bullying, or the reason why economic injustice and poverty should be erased from the earth.

Our belief here at difrent: is that by galvanizing these developments we can foster the development of a a new global culture of engagement that stimulates artists, youth, and social change organizations worldwide, so we can transform our world. Bringing the best beats and dance grooves together with innovative ideas from micro-finance to community based, multi-stakeholder development initiatives, a new world in music and culture for global unity is dawning.

Artists & Changemakers Unite to be difrent: Music & Culture 4 the Global Generation

Music/Video Dec 14, 2011 No Comments

Vusi Mahlasela, Pete SeegerWarren Haynes, Amadou and Mariam, and more join Stephan Said to build difrent: a one-stop for music and culture for social change to unite movements worldwide in a new model for music that promotes initiatives making a better world on a constant basis.  Sign-Up, join us on Facebook, Twitter, suggest artists, thinkers, initiatives for us to feature, write/produce for us, tell your friends, and help spread the word!

Follow these links to see feature pages with the artists:

Warren Haynes:

Vusi Mahlasela:

Amadou and Mariam:

difrent: video with Stephan Said, Pete Seeger:

be the movement!

Send in your suggestions about artists, news, and events, worldwide 

Join the difrent: YouTube Channel

Organize an Event in Your Community


Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Tao Rodriguez, Stephan Said, Tom Chapin “This Little Light”

Music/Video Oct 25, 2011 No Comments

A video by Sandi Bachom now going viral of more than a thousand gathered n Columbus Circle joining together to sing and play “This Little Light of Mine” just past midnite July 22, 2011. SInce it first went up, the videos been forwarded through the Occupy movement, and used by sites from AP to CNBC.

Tom Morello at Occupy LA

Music/Video Oct 11, 2011 No Comments

Rage Against The Machine guitarist and Nightwatchman Tom Morello just sang at Occupy LA and is heading to NYC to join the crowds and musicians at Liberty Sq.

NBC discusses difrent:

Featured Sep 21, 2011 Comments Off on NBC discusses difrent:

NBC’s Chuck Scarborough sat down with Stephan to discuss difrent: on the International Day of Peace and the vision for lifting the voices of unity worldwide through music.