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:
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.
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.
PRI’s The World interviews Stephan about 9/11 on the 10th anniversary and discussing how the inspiration for creating difrent: and writing Take A Stand both emenated from his desire to bring people together across every conceivable border, from nations to musical styles.
Central Park turns into apocalyptic Sherwood Forest for the day on Sept. 30 when the Black Eyed Peas team up NYC’s biggest private poverty fighting organization.
Read about the Essakane, the film at www.essakanefilm.com. Here is a quote from the website, “Essakane Film is a feature length documentary film about the most remote music festival in the world—the Festival au Désert—and the battle to make it happen. Once a year, just outside of Timbuktu in the sand dunes of the Sahara, a music festival that serves to sustain peace and resolve regional conflict rocks the socks off an audience of thousands for three days straight. From Robert Plant to Jimmy Buffett, musicians from around the world have journeyed through the mystical terrain of the Sahara to jam with Malian, Tuareg, and West African musicians at the Festival au Désert.
As a homegrown approach to sustanning peace, democracy, and for developing tourism in Mali, the festival has brought significant cultural awareness and economic development to the local communities in the region and the tourism sector in Mali. But sadly, over the past few years, security warnings issued by Western governments have increased, affecting the attendance at the festival and threatening its viability. But that will not stop the festival organizers, the community, and the musicians who rock the stage from putting on another great show in 2011.”