I recently held an album release party at Vancouver Live Sound to celebrate the release of my new album, Scorpius Rising. As a part of the event, I invited Amnesty International to come and give a presentation on their work. As some Inner Listeners may know, Samar Oriental Dance Ensemble performed for the Amnesty International fundraiser at The Fan Club in Vancouver on August 28th, 2013.
As part of the presentation, Amnesty International asked about why I wanted to create a link between their work and the music I was presenting. Here is a part of my response:
I am a strong believer in and student of personal development. I believe in the transformational potential of people, I believe music can play an important part in this transformation, and I believe there is a baseline that we have to establish in society where there is true compassion, equality, and a sense of world wide family. Obviously basic human rights are a fundamental part of this. That is why I’m a supporter of Amnesty, and it is one of the deepest themes in my personal ethics which I believe I bring to my creative work.
Perhaps another interesting article topic would be the relationship between art and politics. I myself have not been able to create work that is overtly political. But I do feel that the mere act of creation is, in some ways, inherently political. Ultimately, I feel art transcends political concerns, but to paraphrase Ken Wilber, it includes politics too.
From this I had to ask myself, as I often do: does art matter? And, if so, why?
After reflecting on my response to Amnesty, the following thought bubbled to the surface: by and large, people are not changed by facts or figures. Real effective and lasting change has to begin within the feelings, or to put it another way, within the “non-verbal” parts of the person. Maybe “pre-verbal” is another way to say it. And this is the part of us that music addresses directly. I’ve spoken before about the role of lyrics in music and how in some ways putting words to music weakens its inherent ability to speak to our deeper selves. But regardless, music has the power to bypass or transcend the words and touch us directly in the feeling centre.
What this means to me is that the artist has a role to play, and that it is an important role. How effective this role is can be debated; how important the role is I believe is beyond question.