Brain Pickings

Peace Through Music: The Voice Project

Participatory peace, or how cover chains are unshackling an imprisoned community.

A few months ago, we helped nonprofit Invisible Children fight the child soldier epidemic in Uganda — a country plagued by a tragic number of social ills fueled by a decade-long war — through music. Now, another music-driven effort is aiming to empower another one of the country’s severely victimized populations — the many women who live as widows, rape survivors and former abductees.

The Voice Project is an effort to support these brave women, who have come together in groups around the country, singing songs of hope and regeneration. The lyrics of these songs let their sons, former child soldiers, know that they have been forgiven and can now come home. Circulated via radio and word of mouth, these songs are actually working, bringing young men back home and giving a war-torn country a chance at peace for the first time in 24 years.

Inspired by these women’s songs, The Voice Project is bringing well-known artists together into “cover chains,” each covering the music of another. The videos are posted online and all proceeds from donations and sponsorships go towards peace programs and rebuilding efforts in Uganda.

Part Invisible Children, part Record Club, part Levi’s Pioneer Sessions, The Voice Project is a music-lover’s mecca. From indie dreams-come-true like Brett Dennen covering Citizen Cope to iconic intersections like Peter Gabriel covering Tom Waits to unlikely yet priceless pairings like The Submarines covering The Beatles, the effort uses the universal power of music to amplify a critical humanitarian message, allowing artists — and, in turn, their fans — to become a part of a cause best fought for by relinquishing the notion of “the other” and harnessing the power of community, a global community, in reconstructing the broken identity of a nation.

For a taste of The Voice Project‘s brilliance, grab a free download of Home by one of our favorite bands, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, featuring the Gulu Women’s Choir.


Published July 26, 2010




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