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Project Ahimsa

Karsh Kale performing live at the Global Sight & Sound fundraiser

I normally try to focus on one or two bands at a time in any given post. Today is an exception, because we received a request from a non-profit organization called Project Ahimsa to talk about their work. Their goal is simple and noble: to use music as empowering and educational tool for children from poor communities all over the world.

To achieve this goal Project Ahimsa holds fundraisers stateside, particularly in San Francisco where they have their annual Global Sight & Sound fundraiser, which is a largely successful event that showcases artists from around the world and attracts a crowd of over 1,500. Through such fundraisers they have provided “grants, music educator salaries and musical instruments” for needy children in India, Guatemala, and poor communities in the United States.

Well, so much for the boring old details. Now let me give you my personal opinion. As a man who loves his music, who has trouble making it through a day without listening to a song or two, and who always has some beat flowing through his head, it boggles my mind to imagine that there are people out there who don’t have easy access to music. I remember doing research on music piracy a couple months ago and I came across an article stating that piracy is much more prevalent in South American countries such as Brazil. These are also the countries where there are fewer restrictions on the major record labels, so they price fix the hell out the CD’s they’re selling. And the minimum wage is so much lower in Brazil than in the U.S. that to buy a new CD by Madonna would cost a third of one’s monthly wages. It doesn’t make sense to invest in such a ridiculously expensive luxury when you need to pay for food, lodgings, and other such necessities.

This is why I think groups like Project Ahimsa are important. They give people access to music who wouldn’t otherwise have that outlet. And they aren’t just providing children the opportunity to hear music, they are giving children the capability to engage in the art of creating their own music, which is a much more special gift. I was more thoroughly convinced that they were doing good work when I saw photos of their organization participating in a music therapy project for crippled children in Bengal. Everyone uses music as therapy to some degree or another, but to actually use it as an anti-depressant of sorts for these poor, sick children was a concept that greatly appealed to me.

But this is a music blog and as such we should give props to the artists that have helped Project Ahimsa at their fundraisers, such as Bobby Friction, 311, Black Eyed Peas, Karsh Kale, The Doors, Nitin Sawhney, and many others who are listed on Project Ahimsa’s site. The following two songs are from Karmacy and Indofunk respectively. They give you an idea of what you might hear at a Project Ahimsa fundraiser. Make sure to go check out the CD’s these bands have for sale at their sites if you enjoy their music.

Karmacy – Just Breathe
Indofunk – Todi (Edit)

To learn how to support Project Ahimsa yourself, visit their website and go to the “Get Involved” section where it will tell you how to provide donations and how you can volunteer. It’s a worthwhile organization that does good work, so if you have the time or the money then I urge you to help out in any way you can.

Also, if you would like more information on music piracy in Latin America, read “Who are the Pirates? The Politics of Piracy, Poverty, and Greed in a Globalized Music Market” by Jack Bishop.

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