How has music affected your life?
I’m sure I can quite safely say that almost everyone is touched by its influence in some way or another. It is such an intricate part of who we are as humans that it is almost impossible to ignore.
But what makes music so miraculous, is its ability to transcend the boundaries of understanding. Whether you are a Masai warrior from the Serengeti, or a tenor from an A Capella group in South Carolina, you have the potential to make a musical connection with just about any one.
There are a few moments in my life that illustrated to me why music is such a corner-stone of human existence, and these moments will forever be ingrained in my mind.
The trip from Istanbul to the area in Turkey that was most affected by the 1999 earthquake left all of us in stunned silence. The relief tents deprived what little grass there was of any sunlight, and that sunlight could be seen through the empty shells of buildings, shaken by the very Gaia who embraces us so warmly. Men, women and children were scattered among the narrow gaps between the make shift homes, and with every gust of wind they would shield their eyes for the dust.
We were on our way to sing for the victims of this earthly terror. A bus full of 12 to 15-year-old boys, and we had no idea of the soul enriching experience we were about to have.
When we arrived, (I don’t recall the name of the place we were heading to. I was young, and where you are as a child doesn’t matter as much as what you are doing), there was a sea of people waiting to greet us. I will never forget the smiling faces hiding the anguish of their loss.
These people who had so little, beamed with pure delight at our arrival. They cheered and waved and banged the side of our bus, but all the children wanted to do when we stepped onto the dusty earth, was feel the hair of the few black children touring with us. It was inspiring to see how, despite all that had happened, there was still room for the joy of curiosity.
Some officials cleared an area for us to perform. We set up our drums and other African instruments, and prepared to entertain our hosts. The very first beat of the drum was met with a deafening cheer from the small but dense crowd. The energy was infectious. The louder they cheered, the more passionate I felt. I could have danced there for hours, the drums transcending us all to a pure ecstasy that can never be explained.
There was a point where one of the older children picked up a spare drum and started playing along with us. At that moment, a new wave of illustrious joy rippled through the crowed, and when the final beat had faded, and the roar of the people was drowning out the thoughts of recent events, I knew we had made a connection with every single person present. A connection that is worth a thousand books.
We spoke to their souls, and they listened.