ARTICLE: Voices for Peace
September 2013, The Hideaway Jazz Cafe, Streatham
‘Music is the most powerful weapon for peace’
Peace Day is taken seriously by Streatham in South-West London. For the past few years The Little Big Peace Event has marked the occasion with a week-long festival filled with community-based events promoting a culture of peace.
Voices for Peace held on the 15th September was a part of those celebrations. Invited back for a second time after the success of the previous year, the event combined music with Prem Rawat’s message – a winning combination!
The venue was The Hideaway, a hip jazz club on Streatham high street, which has a reputation for top-class music nights. Tickets were reserved in advance and sold out well before. The team promoted the evening by widely distributing 2,500 leaflets around the area, and a video promo was created which included interviews with all the artists. The event also got a mention on BBC radio London that morning!
The team behind the event call themselves Celebrate Life - a small group with a passion for Life, Music and Prem Rawat’s message of Peace. Over the 3 years since the team have organised these events, they have grown organically and gone from strength to strength - the last one being the best yet! Wallee McDonnell is part of the team, and his contacts in the World music scene helped pull in some of the big names of the night.
Careful planning, support from the local community and good teamwork were the ingredients which made the night successful.
As the 100+ people came into the venue and took their seats they suspected they were in for a treat, but perhaps none of them knew quite how special it would be.
The night was a musical journey around the world. Classic pop mixed with folk and soul from Tiu de Haan, blues exploring its West African roots with Ramon Goose and Abdoulaye Samb, India reconnecting with Ireland from Najma Akhtar and last but not least the formidable band of Lokkhi Terra meeting Dele Sosimi creating the most infectious rhythms imaginable. The Afro beat with Cuban Rumba had everyone on their feet and practically brought the house down.
The heart of the evening was the message of Prem Rawat, Ambassador of Peace. A 14 minute film featured intimate, powerful exchanges between Prem Rawat, students, journalists and prison inmates, from around the world.
People listened attentively, applauded with delight and were moved to tears. ‘I can’t do this alone’ Prem Rawat said during the last exchange from a student in Russia. ‘I am counting on the help of every single person on the face of this earth. And you know what is encouraging? When people hear my message they agree and they want to help. I see a possibility emerging. This is not a revolution this is an evolution. Because peace needs to be given a chance. Now.’
This sentiment was echoed in the guest comments and interviews conducted after the event. One guest wants to bring the message to the school where she teaches, another wants to do a similar event in his area of London. ‘He filled our hearts with hope’, one lady said. ‘The evening was like a tapestry weaving in cultures from all over the world.’ Another guest said the message brought tears. ‘Peace is something I always wanted but as time passed by I gave up hope. When I heard Prem talk it brought back hope and that’s why it made me emotional.’
Dele Sosimi the Nigerian-born artist well known across London and the world, summed up the night when he said. ‘Music is the most powerful weapon for peace. This kind of event should be repeated – it will help a lot of people.’
Thanks to Nitesh Mistry for the photos.