Songs for sustainable peace and development

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This project, in collaboration with Liberian musicians who are current or former refugees, centers on using music to foster sustainable development and peace in order to rebuild war-torn societies. Songs are intangible and relatively inexpensive to produce, when compared with infrastructural development projects like building roads, schools, and hospitals, that work physical transformations. Yet songs, circulating rapidly through multiple media networks -- Internet, radio, TV, mobile phone -- and combining musical sound and evocative topical lyrics, can serve as powerful tools to work social and cultural transformations by educating and raising awareness. Such songs are composed in typical popular musical styles, drawing listeners in and raising emotional receptivity. Lyrics, however, are written to carry specific messages to audiences. A song cannot bring clean drinking water, but can call attention to the dangerous diseases unpurified water can bring. A song cannot rebuild a community rent by war, but can call for tolerance and understanding. A song may not teach reading, but can remind of its importance. In this way, music can work towards public health, ethnic and religious tolerance, and a better educational system. Music videos can raise awareness also through a visual dimension.

We've been working with Liberian refugee musicians in Ghana (e.g. on who know very well how to craft popular music -- from reggae to rap -- that's widely appreciated among their peers. We're now focussing on sponsoring production of songs to disseminate messages promoting positive social change.

Because songs are short, they're relatively inexpensive to produce. About $2000-$3000 suffices to produce a song and pay musicians, composer, lyricist (music videos will cost about twice as much). These artists will agree to be paid a modest honorarium in advance, signing a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License guaranteeing artist recognition and the integrity of their work, but allowing their work to freely circulate, thus maximizing impact as public service announcements, couched in song, towards sustainable development and peace.

In this way we seek to achieve three goals:

  1. Contribute towards sustainable development and peace by focussing local attention on critical social issues through music.
  2. Raise global awareness about these issues, thereby encouraging more donors to contribute, via Web platforms such as iTunes.
  3. Support musicians (materially and symbolically, by providing a stipend and raising their profiles) and revive musical cultures and industries of war-torn societies generally, by putting them back on the map.

Production of each song will take place in several phases:

  1. A theme is provided by a member of the project team, or by a potential sponsor. Themes may include a wide array of issues - public health, education, domestic violence, etc…
  2. Participating musicians quickly develop this idea into a song sketch, drafting lyrics and melody, using their own computer facilities to generate sound, resulting in a text file and mp3
  3. The project team seeks a sponsor, well-suited to the theme, to raise about $2000-$3000 per song, depending on the number of musicians involved. This manageable figure falls well within the range of NGOs or even community organizations (e.g. churches and schools).
  4. Sponsors may engage with the team, suggesting modifications, in an open dialog aiming at agreement. Once achieved, the sponsor sends funds for implementation
  5. Funds are used to produce the song at a top-tier digital recording studio in Accra, resulting in a professional sound, without the need for travel.
  6. The digital song is distributed...
    1. Locally through cooperating radio and TV stations
    2. Globally through the Web, including iTunes, podcasts, YouTube, etc. Besides the songs themselves, a podcast may also carry other material, such as interviews with the musicians, along the lines of Refugee Music TV (see

We have already drafted five songs, which are now ready for dialog with potential sponsors:

1. Religion and people Ft. Shadow, KB. & Quincy B.
2. Be aware - Beware of HIV/AIDS Ft. Shadow, KB., Lib. Dream and Ampain
3. Child eduction Ft. Judell, H. Tarwah Steward & Shadow
4. Sanitation Ft. J-cop V, Shadow & Faya
5. World peace Ft. Shadow, Judell & P. Curly

If you are interested in sponsoring one of these songs, or in proposing another, please write us.