Friday, December 12, 2008

"Playing for Change" - Mark Johnson

Although this posting is of a more global theme then our Peace Corps days, this morning I was very moved by an email that my youngest son sent me and I wish to pass it along to anyone who may be following this site, or reading this blog. I am able to connect this to my own intense and moving experience as a Peace Corps volunteer back so many years. I have mentioned this before in other postings how I became aware of both an undercurrent of cadence and song daily while living in Africa. Why was I more aware of this in Africa then at home? - I wonder. For me if it wasn't that I both had, and took the time to step back and experience more. Perhaps I was also growing up, and had more time to be aware and appreciate what was around me. However it was Africa that taught me, in its own unique way, that how we get about, how we function, and how we cope daily, is supported and aided by an undercurrent of rhythms, harmony, and cadence. In Africa this was so potent. From the mother singing or dancing with her baby on her back, to the farmer laboring on his rice farm, to the rhythmic banging of mortar and pestle preparing the days meal, to the celebration of a holiday or an important visitor, there was always a beat and a thread of music. In Africa I heard music for the first time that had it roots way back in time in a culture that at first seemed so remote, but in time became our first home. And when you listened to the cadence, to the harmony, to the complex words and ancient tunes you could hear in them the seeds of much of the music that I had grown to love in America. It was the eery harmonies that I loved the most.  It was the strong percussed beating of what seemed initially like exotic instruments that always caught my attention.  
What Danny has sent me is a beautiful piece by Bill Moyers about a man named Mark Johnson - a man who has an idea and a dream. The piece is worth listening to 

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