Building a better world through songs: Musicians’ collective to launch album of peoples’ music from Southeast Asia

The Asian Music for Peoples’ Peace and Progress (aMP3), a collective of progressive and socially-engaged musicians from Asia will be launching the album A Village in the Making: Peoples’ Music from Southeast Asia on June 18, 2019 from 1:30-430 pm at the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Mini Theater in Bangkok, Thailand.

The album is aMP3’s inaugural offering, which showcases 14 original songs from artists from Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand.

The carrier track, The Village is a song originally written for the Earth Citizens Assembly organized by the Alliance for a Responsible and United World held in Sao Paolo, Brazil in 1997. The song, which was given a new arrangement featuring new choruses in Bahasa, Khmer, Tagalog, and Thai speaks of hope for a better place, a community where peace, freedom, justice and equality reign.

An excerpt from the liner notes written by Filipino singer-songwriter Jess Santiago describes the collaborative process that went into the making of the album:

 This modest collection began with an attempt to translate the refrain of The Village into Thai, Khmer, Bahasa Indonesia, and Tagalog during the Asian Peoples Music Concert in Manila in November 2017. Soon after the concert one of the Thai participants, Pik, who works as arranger and sound engineer for a recording studio in Bangkok, did a demo of the song. Pik hardly speaks English. But that proved to be no problem. As the song says: “…the language of the heart is the mother tongue of all”—and Pik has a big heart. He listened to the original recording of the song till his ears bled just to learn the English text so that he could do the demo vocal himself. His demo became the backbone for the recording of the song—with the translated refrain—during the group’s meeting in Bangkok in May 29-June 1, 2018. The song became the anchor to further develop the idea of producing an album. A few more songs (Una Nilang Dinampot by Bong Ramilo and Wake Up by Messenger Band) were likewise recorded in Bangkok. The plan for the album was concretized when the group met again in Bali in October. The remaining songs were recorded in the contributors’ respective countries from December 2018 until March 2019.

Aside from the album launch in Bangkok, the first in a series across the region, aMP3 is in town for a collaborative workshop to write new songs and work on cross-translation of existing materials. The workshop is made possible through a grant from ANA-Arts Network Asia (www.artsnetworkasia.org), an enabling grant body, set up by a group of independent artists, cultural workers and arts activists from Asia, that encourages collaboration, initiated and sited in Asia and carried out by Asian artists. The project is also supported by Focus on the Global South (www.focusweb.org).”

If you have questions or wish to arrange interviews with the musicians please do not hesitate to contact Joseph Purugganan at  josephp@focusweb.org or +639175460319 on Whats App (english) or Nitithorn Thongthirakul (thai) at ae.nitikul@gmail.com

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