As urban India warms up to eclectic melodies that are churned out each day, core concerns in the music space are looking at fulfilling their CSR obligations by doing their bit. Here’s looking at how, when, why, where this is happening and what they are doing.
Mewsic and VH1: Australian cricketer Brett Lee who has already exhibited his musical side by cutting albums, has now established a foundation for music therapy – MEWSIC. The foundation has been started with a vision that music is widely recognised and used as a powerful tool to heal, empower, educate marginalised children in India. Mewsic has been established with four different platforms to achieve its goals, basically – music for healing, music for education, music for empowerment and music for advocacy.
Lee says, “I am doing what I love, now. I used to sing in the shower and hum songs being played on the radio. I believe that not everyone gets the chance to learn music and I want all these kids to benefit from music and its power. It is amazing to see the smiles on the faces of all these kids. They are able to express their thoughts and feelings through the songs which they themselves write and it’s a one of a kind thing.”
Vh1 has now partnered the foundation in this cause and have launched their CSR initiative ‘Spread the Music’ campaign with them. This campaign aims at helping underprivileged children overcome challenges in life and reach their full potential through music. It also looks at mobilising the general public into action via its digital operations. Explains Ferzad Palia, Programming Head, Vh1, “We have decided to go beyond the conventional with this campaign. It is going to be a long term movement and we are going to push this cause. Vh1 India will support the set-up of four NGO Music centres in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Lucknow in association with Mewsic and its partner, Pratham. The channel will also arrange for upcoming and leading artists to train and guide these children who enrol at these centres. Anyone and everyone can be a part of this movement by donating money, old musical instruments or lending time by volunteering to teach, thus spreading knowledge, expertise, love and… music.”
Brett Lee and the children worked with the Muso-Magic team from Australia to write and choreograph the campaign song ‘Vh1 Spread The Music’, at the launch event of this initiative. Muso-Magic specialises in empowering groups through song writing.
Artists for a Cause, Dharavi Rocks: ACORN Foundation along with Blue Frog has started an initiative named ‘The Dharavi Rocks project’ – connecting the educational and ‘fun’ aspects of music to important environmental issues. The mission is to give slum kids a voice by initiating them into music, bringing positive creative experiences into their lives and creating a bond between communities – the project brings together kids from different backgrounds and communities to gain an understanding of each other.
Emmanuelle Decker, programming head, Blue Frog, says, “The project started with The Boxettes & Droolian beat box workshop in April 2010. It was a combination of different things that happened at the same time. We, at blueFROG, wanted to be involved in environmental and social issues and many foreign bands requested us to do ‘something more’ for under privileged communities in India who don’t have access to concerts. We then met Vinod Shetty who had already done events with kids in Dharavi and who understands the value in combining arts and education. We had seven music workshops with foreign bands since April 2010 and, since June 2011, we’re organising weekly music workshops with Indian musicians to get more involved in the kids’ education – with Stuart from Something Relevant, Jared Dias and Ayush Shrestha. We’re now planning to compose songs and record an album!”
The idea of recording an album is also to give a voice to the kids, so they can speak about their lives and about the ragpicker community – the project aims to raise awareness about their social conditions, since they’re actually the ones who pick up garbage and take them to recycling factories in Dharavi.