One show, three intertwined missions
Ryan Summerlin April 19, 2013
World Music Development will find out how much good you can do with one concert today in Breckenridge.
The nonprofit organization has a vision to create global peace and elevate life, one community at a time, through music. To this end, World Music Development has partnered with Boulder’s Conscious Alliance and Hope for Children of Africa to bring Gift of Gab, of Blackalicious fame, to the Riverwalk Center in Breck tonight.
“I love the music of Gift of Gab, since he includes very conscious lyrics in his music that are very meaningful,” said Saam Golgoon, of World Music Development, in an email. “He talks about world issues and problems. He is also a very humble man.”
The goal of the concert is threefold: to raise awareness for World Music Development, to raise money for the Conscious Alliance and to collect musical instruments for distribution through Hope for Children of Africa.
“Conscious Alliance deals with hunger and youth empowerment right here in Colorado and the U.S.,” Golgoon said. “We want our actions and events to show that not only do we work with organizations whose mission deals with issues in foreign countries, but we deal with issues right here in our own state and country, as well. We work locally and globally.”
A portion of the ticket sales to tonight’s Gift of Gab concert will be donated to the Conscious Alliance. Anna Taylor-Copeland, program manager for Conscious Alliance, said the group serves communities all over the nation, but one of the nonprofit’s main targets is collecting food and goods for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
“We built an emergency food pantry there, and we take a big Penske truck up there with food and goods we’ve collected about once a month to keep it all filled,” she said.
The money raised from today’s concert will be used for travel and distribution costs to get a donation of skateboards to the people of Pine Ridge.
“It’s one the poorest communities in the nation,” Taylor-Copeland said. “The average income is about $6,300 per year, unemployment is between 80 (percent) and 85 percent, it has extreme economic isolation and the life expectancy there is only 47 years for men and 52 for women.
“We helped put in a skate park in October 2011, so were looking at doing more projects like that for healthy outlets and resources for the youth up there because they don’t have much going on right now.”
Taylor-Copeland said the cause should be an important one to Summit County because many people are unaware of the extreme poverty within our own nation, and it’s crucial to give to and care about keeping people in the U.S. fed and healthy.
“We see all of this extreme poverty in other nations, so it’s important for people to give back and help these communities that are kind of tucked under the rug” she said.
Hope for Children of Africa will be collecting musical instruments at the concert to deliver to the Gbarnga (pronounced Bonga) Community Learning Center, currently under construction in Bong County, Liberia.
“Anyone who brings a used music instrument, which can be a harmonica even, will get a $5 discount on the ticket price at the door,” Golgoon said. “Individuals who have purchased a ticket in advance who bring in an instrument will receive a gift from us which will be either a double disc compilation CD of independent artists from across the U.S. or an original art work by local Alma artist Cat Roberts.”
Golgoon said World Music Development has partnered with Hope for Children of Africa for a couple of small fundraisers in Alma the past eight months, and the partnership makes sense since the organization deals directly with war affected children in Liberia.
“The population that I’m most concerned about and that the president of Liberia has asked us to help with the most is the young adults who survived the 15-year war but weren’t able to go to school,” said Nancy Wood, co-founder of Hope for Children of Africa. “They’re illiterate, underserved and disconnected.”
Wood said anything to do with music, art or dance programs seems to do a phenomenal job with improving the literacy skills of these detached Liberian youth and reconnecting them with their culture.
“It was a way to engage them in that culture in Liberia,” she said. “We collect musical instruments and art supplies, along with books – it gets youth connected with the program and allows them some self-expression. It heals them.”
Hope for Children of Africa is collecting simple, easy to transport instruments to pass along to the youth of Liberia, along with about 5,000 books collected from Colorado libraries, Wood said.
“Harmonicas, drums, anything to do with African drums,” she said. “Nonelectric, simple instruments, like flutes or worldly instruments to connect with other nations, too. Simple and easy to learn kind of musical instruments that are smaller; I don’t want tubas because they’re a little harder to transport.”
Wood said finding support in Summit County for her organization’s work isn’t difficult because the community is genuinely interested in getting involved.
“Our local community, the people who have a life they enjoy, are really generous,” Wood said. “They think globally; they aren’t as caught up in their day to day lives because they are happy with their lives. … These used books and used musical instruments mean so much to those kids because they make the connection that people in America know about us and care about us.”
Golgoon said World Music Development’s mission is important to him personally because he was born and grew up in Iran until the age of 14.
“I experienced war first hand during the Iran/Iraq war,” he said. “I have experienced air raids first hand, and I do not wish that upon any child or human being. Since my move to the U.S. at age 15, I have made many wonderful friends through music. This is where my passion lies. I truly believe that music is the universal language that brings people together and can put their differences aside.”