The Price of Silence
A world music dance party with a message! 15 musicians from all over the world rock the General Assembly. Produced especially for Amnesty International by Link TV.
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Emmanuel Jal Interview
In this moving interview Emmanuel Jal speaks eloquently not just about his traumatic childhood as a child soldier in Sudan, but about the pivotal impact of aid worker Emma McCune on his life, and his desire to make a difference in the world.
At the heart of the Colombian pop rock group Aterciopelados is Hector Buitrago and Andrea Echeverri. In this interview taped at Andrea's home in Bogota, Hector and Andrea discuss the political corruption that is rife within the government and the toll of the "civil war" and kidnappings on the social fabric of the nation.
(Colombia) In this tribute to protest songs, Aterciopelados make visual a quote from the great singer-songwriter Victor Jara, who said "The authentic revolutionary should be behind the guitar, so that the guitar becomes an instrument of struggle, so that it can also shoot like a gun." The band takes aim at those who dismiss protest as being unpatriotic or on the side of the terrorists.
Chico Cesar is one of Brazil's best known singer-songwriters, and his songs have been covered by the likes of Daniela Mercury, Elba Ramallo, and Maria Bethania. In this interview he discusses not just his love of music, but his roots in the Northeast of Brazil, and the support his family gave him. He also expresses his firm convictions about the obligation to put citizenship before art.
(Brazil) "Pensar Em Você" is one of Chico Cesar's best known love songs. It's been covered by some of Brazil's greatest divas. But Cesar wanted to express something about a larger love, and so he placed his song in one of the communities set up by landless people, those who have no land of their own to work, but who have set up schools, and maintain tight family structures even as they live in dire poverty.
Taped in Dakar. Although he was not born to be a griot, El Hadj N'Diaye has been called to the idiom of the social protest song through his conscience. He has sung fearlessly about corruption and political repression, and has endured intimidation and hostility from those he has dared to critique. He currently directs arts activities for a non-governmental organization called Environment, Development and Action (ENDA). He calls his division, Siggi ENDA Art, "siggi" being Wolof for "lift up your head."
(Senegal) El Hadj N'Diaye has been an activist singer-songwriter since he first became involved in music. He has been a voice for the poor for years, and his stance on things economic in Africa is clear: The World Bank and the IMF have many developing countries in a stranglehold of debt. It keeps economies crippled, and the people unable to fend for themselves. In this impassioned video, El Hadj N'Diaye implores the powers that be to relieve his country from its debt, so that people can work toward a better future for themselves.
Taped in Mumbai. Shubha Mudgal is one of India's premiere divas, known for both her impeccable renditions of the Indian classical repertoire, and her exceptionally eclectic musical forays. In this interview Mudgal muses on the creation of the song, "Babul" as a twist on a traditional wedding song, and also discusses the lack of popular songs with substantive messages in India.
(India) In this video about domestic female abuse, a child walks through a party in which all the adult couples seem happy as they socialize. But as she looks at three of the couples, she sees the humiliation and violence with which each woman has been treated prior to arriving at the party. The video was produced by Breakthrough TV an organization dedicated to dealing with social problems in India. The use of a traditional song form underscores the pathos of each wife's situation.
Filmed in NYC, Somali-Canadian world music star K'Naan reflects on the two different parts to his early life: the first part idyllic and "majestic," raised in a refined and respected family, with a life of love, intellectual challenge and respect, and the second part, a life of violence as war gripped his home town of Mogadishu, and he saw his friends die senseless deaths. He speaks candidly about human indifference to suffering.
(Somalia/Canada) This scathing rap against the politicians and warlords of Somalia comes from K'Naan, a native son who narrowly escaped his country with his life. He has been compared to Eminem and other rappers, but he is a world apart, eschewing violence from already having experienced too much too close. He caught Youssou N'Dour's attention when he performed for the UN, stopped the band and took the present officials to task for a botched job, in rap form. Major tours followed. The video was not shot in Somalia, but in a Somali enclave in Kinshasa, as Mogadishu was far too dangerous to visit. "Soo Bax" means "Get out."
An activist in every sense, Michael Franti has spoken out against the death penalty, the ills of globalization, corporate greed, and the prison system. In this interview, taped in San Francisco, Franti describes a world he envisions that will need no passports. He touches on his visits to Iraq and Israel and discusses the unifying power of music.
(USA) No matter how lighthearted the vibe on this dancehall outing, Michael Franti is a man of principle, and the subjects he is tackling lyrically are no walk in the park. This song is about the need for us to recognize the sacredness of our world, and our connections to each other. The track is made ebullient through the presence of reggae mainstays Sly and Robbie. While the prescription for the world's ills may not be as simple as learning to say "hello" in few languages, or as easy as "making love to the rhythm," the song and video manage to create a sense of the global community that Franti envisions.
(Uruguay) Jorge Nasser is a mainstay of the Uruguayan pop music scene, having made his debut CD in 1984. "Carritos De MI Ciudad" is an ode to the poor of Montevideo, who scavenge for a living on the streets of the city, unnoticed and unremarked by the well to do. The poor do not have cars, only their hands feet and sometimes a small horse drawn cart ("carrito") which they pile high with urban detritus, to be sold outside the city for food.
Originally one of Montevideo's best known rockers for his tenure with the band Niquel, Jorge Nasser has since combined local musical forms like milonga and chamarrita to create a more updated, but completely Uruguayan sound. Taped in Montevideo, Nasser discusses the devastating effects of living through a dictatorship, the role of being a musician and what led him to write about the poor of the city.
Possessed of one of the most extraordinary voices in world music, Lila Downs is as much of a performance artist as a singer. Her repertoire which can range from traditional to original generally references her native Mexican heritage. In this interview, she discusses her childhood in Mexico, growing up the daughter of a mixed marriage, and her eventual turn to topical songs inspired by the music of Mercedes Sosa.
(Mexico/USA) Part performance, part documentary, this video is a tribute to Digna Ochoa, the human rights lawyer whose suspicious death was called a suicide by the Mexican authorities. Lila and her husband Paul taped a series of concerts in Mexico City and Oaxaca, and called in several graphic artists to augment the messages in the songs. "Dignificada" was enhanced by the work of Mario Viveros, who provided the archival footage.
The Grammy-winning Angelique Kidjo is surely Afropop's diva supreme. She has fearlessly combined Western pop genres with African influences, and with every disc, her work just seems to get stronger. She has also been a champion of women's rights worldwide, been a UNICEF ambassador, and worked for OXFAM. In this interview Angelique blames the problems of the world on big business and the heartless pursuit of profit.
(Benin/USA) It's no easy thing to cover a Rolling Stones classic like "Gimme Shelter." But if anyone can do it, the small but mighty Angelique Kidjo can, reworking the song and making it her own by adding the rhythm section of Benin's Gangbe Brass Band. It's a killer track, and a song that is still as relevant as when it was first released in 1969. The difference is that Angelique's version is a call to action in the face of violence, poverty, and genocide.
(Turkey) Despite its highly sexual imagery, this black and white video is an indictment of domestic violence and male chauvinism. Although there are no explicit words, or outright sexual acts, the video was deemed obscene and was censored in Turkey. An irony, considering how ultimately moralistic the message is.