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Playing For Change in Colombia

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We landed in Colombia about 11 days ago to create a new song involving musicians from different parts of the country. The idea of a song around Colombia came from our friend Fernando Vila who works for the non-profit foundation Americas Business Council (ABC), in order to unite the different cultures of Colombia trough music. The project was a double challenge for us: South America was still a land that we never explored, and we had to create a song around Colombia in less than ten days!

We started our journey in Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast. We couldn’t have imagined a better place to start. The song we picked is a well-known Colombian tune called “La Tierra del Olvido” by Carlos Vives. The idea was to create an organic version of the song based on the union of different traditional instruments, rhythms and cultures. We started the process recording percussions, gaitas (traditional Colombian flutes), an accordion, and a guitar. After just one day of intense recordings we all had the strange sensation of feeling as if we had been in Cartagena for a week already.

Our second day in Colombia, we went to Palenque de San Basilio, a village two hours from Cartagena founded by fugitive slaves about three hundred years ago, a unique corner of Africa in South America. The people from Palenque knew how to preserve their roots and their music trough the years. There is also an undeniable and curious Cuban spirit in the music they play. Meeting the people from Palenque was a dream come true for all of us, an unbelievable human and musical experience. In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed Palenque “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. In Palenque we recorded two bands at the same time: “Las Alegres Ambulancias” and “Sexteto Tabalá”. They laid down a perfect groove to the track and sang the song all together. Four generations of the Batata’s family where playing at the same time. That was just magic! I’ll never forget that handsome little kid playing the “tambora” (traditional bass drum) perfectly with his father, while his mother and grandmother were singing the song.

After only two days in Colombia we already had more than 20 musicians on our version of “La Tierra del olvido”! Then we flew to Bogota to record a symphonic orchestra that consisted of 37 kids. Totó la Momposina then played a version of her song “Los sabores del Porro” and added her spirit to our song around Colombia. Every day was a new experiment of connection and fusion between different musical styles, cultures and situations. Beyond the recording of the new song, trough the amazing work and the love of the people we met there, we had the chance to extend the PFC family in South America. On April 7th, a video of this song around Colombia will be presented in Medellí­n during the World Economic forum on Latin America to represent the healing power of music. We hope the example of different cultures connected and united together trough music will contribute to convey human values into the world of those that governs us, in order to help change this world for a better place for everybody.

Playing for Change grew from a humble dream to make the world a little brighter, and now supports musicians all over the world. For only $5 a month, become a Member and enjoy the entire PFC music catalogue, receive discounts in our shop, and know 20% of your Membership is donated directly to the Playing for Change Foundation.

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