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June 14, 2012 – Last month, JTMP was fortunate to be part of a US state department program of a cultural exchange between people of the arts from all over the world. One visitor, Shukry Ashour, showed us this wonderful video he made set to Arabic folk music, and gave us permission to post it for the world to see this man's peaceful town he grew up in. Enjoy. It is called, "From Here". It is in Arabic with English subtitles.
JTMP Meets With International Visitors through State Department International Visitor Leadership Program
MAY 24, 2012 – JTMP has been a participant in the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program for 3 years now, where citizens from around the world involved in the arts get to come to America and visit to learn about the role of arts in the US. This year we had visitors that came from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia to see how Justice Through Music Project uses art to raise awareness on issues, and to bring about social change. This year's contingent had musicians, playwrights, and people involved in art production. We gave them a presentation and showed them many of our musical art videos that deal with politics and issues, while we spoke about how we operate and produce our art videos. We then showed them how we use this art on our website and YouTube channel to raise awareness on an issue to help bring about positive social change.
The program also hopes to spur and support cross-cultural dialogue, and we experienced a great debate and discussion with the group. We even had one person ask us if the US government interfered with our free speech, which of course we explained as long as its peaceful and legal, a free society must have the free flow of thoughts and ideas, and no restrictions on expressions of art. We even had a great discussion on the role of the US interfering or getting involved in foreign countries, which there were many different opinions, but that was good. We showed them how a free society respects different opinions and solves things peacefully. We talked about how JTMP thinks the best way to bring about peace and social change in a country is for those citizens to be educated and informed, and have a free flow of opinions and dialogue, and be free to set up peaceful democracies. We explained how we feel art plays a big role in democracies, as they are the canaries in the coal mine, and can speak out about issues in unique way and sometimes see or sense problems such as civil rights issues in society before others do.
We chatted after our presentation, and answered many questions, as they were all curious about life in America, our freedoms, and how art plays a role. All of them come from emerging democracies, and most were from the Arab Spring countries setting up democracies for the first time and holding their first free elections, such as Egypt did today. We took photos, and even had the Tunisian guitarist play a few jazz riffs, and promised to stay in touch and continue to network using the Internet and work together on our shared social, political, and cultural goals.
For more information on the US State Department's International Visitor Leadership program, go to: http://exchanges.state.gov/ivlp/
Photo credit: Time
Oct 20, 2011 – Stephen Said, activist musician who is both of Iraqi and Austrian descent, grew up in Appalachia with blue grass and classical music from an early age, has come out in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In a Time Arts article he talks about how growing up around his father's ethnic heritage music influenced him from an early age and compelled him to have peace with himself and work for peace with his art. Recently has led crowds reciting a beautiful Arabic poem called, "Aheb Aisht Al Hirya", which translated into English would be, "I Love the Life of Freedom". The lyrics were written by the great Egyptian poet-laureate Ahmed Shawki, with music by the legendary singer composer Mohammed Abdel Whab written back in the 1930s. In a Examiner article he said about the song, "It's an anthem to global unity and equality that I learned from my father. Commenting on the Arab Spring and the youth uprising throughout the Middle East he said, "This is our moment – the moment when each of us must summon our highest, most poetic selves to courageously step into the brilliance of the next world, a world already in the making."
Said has made the MP3 available for use "by all those who are non-violently working to build the international movement for a more just society." You can download and check out the song at: http://stephansaid.com/audio/aheb-aisht-al-huriyah.mp3
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