Have you ever heard a song on the radio only to somehow be reminded of a feeling you felt years ago when you last heard it? You are not even sure when you last heard it, or who you were with when it was playing, but that feeling from when you heard it remains. The power of music is ubiquitous. There is something about music that can heal you, shape you, and change the way you are feeling. People define themselves by music, with resources like YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Pandora, Slacker, Soundcloud, Dubstep; there are so many opportunities for individuals to be bound together by their music choices.
By allowing individuals to express themselves through music, comment on videos, tweet at their favorite musician and learn about what their friends are listening to, there are so many ways for music to unite individuals. It brings people together in a way that isn't controversial or extreme, but just easy. Think about how many videos have gone viral based on people just sharing links on each other's facebook walls. I can honestly tell you I have had numerous people share "Call Me Maybe" links on my Facebook wall, from the Harvard Baseball team's rendition to James Franco's. It is absolutely amazing to watch how music can be re-translated over and over again from all different groups of people.
Take for example The Johnny Cash Project, a global collective art project uniting together all different takes on one song like puzzle pieces to express "A Living Portrait" of Johnny Cash.
Another genius collaborative music movement from Milk Studio and Arcade Fire is the interactive film The Wilderness Downtown that allows for individuals to enter their geographic location and then reflect with art or words at the end of the experience piecing each note together creating a quilt-like creation of each individual's reaction.
Another example is composer Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir, which held auditions and curated a 2,052-person choir to create a beautiful collaboration for his newest work, "Sleep," using YouTube. This shows the uniting power of music.
My favorite example of using the power of "uniting through music" for good is my dear friend Michelle Edgar's organization Music Unites. Music Unites has built itself on the foundation that music can unite all types of individuals across all borders. She does this by bringing together all types of music genres, from jazz icon Jonathan Batiste and the Stay Human Band to Neon Hitch, a rising Warner Music Group artist. By creating this synergy across different types of genres, she is forming partnerships and friendships, but more importantly she is raising money and awareness for the power of music especially in lower income schools. Music Unites is dedicated to bringing music to underprivileged children in underfunded inner city school systems. They aim towards transforming city landscapes by empowering urban youth through music. Her goal is to connect people through the universality of music by providing communities with opportunities for a rich musical experience.
Through uniting individuals that are passionate about music and passionate about creating change in the world, Music Unites builds off of this momentum to provide opportunities for children who might not have the resources to partake in an online choir or participate in a chrome activity, but just like us, have that very same feeling of inspiration when hearing the right song. In January 2012, Music Unites launched their Five Borough Music Unites Youth Choir Campaign which focuses on bringing a youth choir to a school in each of the five boroughs of New York City. After a kickoff event in partnership with Rolling Stone magazine and the help of artist ambassador Gary Clark Jr., Music Unites was able to launch a choir at the Women's Academy of Excellence, in addition to a free after-school guitar program. Girls who haven't been exposed to a rich music education are now able to experience the power of such thanks to Music Unites.
I highly recommend you come celebrate Music Unites' 3-year anniversary this upcoming Monday, May 21, and help give the gift of music. The organization hopes to raise enough money to bring Gabe Saporta, the next Music Unites Artist Ambassador, to a school in Queens as part of the Five Borough Music Unites Youth Choir. Let's empower, inspire and unite the next generation of musicians. In the mean time, feel free to always post any version of "Call Me Maybe" on my Facebook wall.