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Global music festival aims to bring peace, organizers at Sundance Film Festival say

Published: Thursday, Jan. 28 2010 8:23 p.m. MST

Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, left, and civil rights leader Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr. participate in a news conference hosted by SMI to announce the partnership of The Music 4 Peace Tour and Initiative and four nonprofit charities, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010. The collaborating charities include Hip Hop Summit/Action network, Tribes of the Worlds, Music4Peace Foundation and The Gandhi Tour. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Chris Pizzello, AP

PARK CITY — An impressive group gathered at the Sundance Film Festival this week to announce a global music festival.

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, civil-rights leader Ben Chavis and activist Arun Gandhi, a grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, announced plans for the Music 4 Peace Tour and Initiative.

The tour is a "global music festival created with the intent to arise social change by uniting people through the universal language of music," said tour founder Tobias Huber. He also founded The Gandhi Tour, a touring global music festival aimed at creating a platform for cultural dialogue relating to all cultures and religions and inspired by the life of Mohandas Gandhi, with the support of Arun Gandhi. The festival's first event was at Earthdance 2006.

The Music 4 Peace effort is a partnership to co-produce a similar festival. The partners include Huber; Chavis; Simmons, who is head of Hip Hop Summit/Action Network; Arun Gandhi; SMI/SwaggMedia chief executive officer Craig Nobles; and Tribes of the World founder Wayne Warwick Williams. "Music can build bridges between different cultures, religions and tribes of the world," Huber said. "With the Music 4 Peace Tour, we want to bring the hope that one day we will be able to transform our violent history.

"We want to create the platform for the youth and give them the possibility to raise awareness that non-violence is something functional and not just a fun dream. And it is possible to have the change we want to see in this world."

The tour will feature some high-profile hip-hop and rhythm and blues artists, said Simmons, although the line-up has yet to be finalized.

"Hip-hop artists are the most popular in the world," he said. "Sometimes they're the voices of protest, but if you listen carefully, they are the voices of reason. Music artists are the leaders in the youth movement. We're excited about the potential these diverse organizations have in coming together to harness music as a transformative and unifying power to promote peace throughout the world."

The group announced the tour's first events will include a hip-hop summit in South Africa coinciding with the World Cup and FIFA in June; a summit in Mumbai, India, in November and a Gandhi Tour International day of peace in Brazil.

"The way to create change is to empower," said Chavis. "Our definition of peace is not the absence of war, but it's the presence of justice. It is the presence of empowerment, and it's the presence of helping brothers and sisters all over the world."

In addition to the tour, Music 4 Peace announced the launch of the Film 4 Peace Contest, which will raise money for the Millennium Development Goals, the Hip Hop Summit and aid to Haiti.

Filmmakers are encouraged to submit 2 ½-minute films that interpret their vision of peace, tolerance and global betterment. Log on to www.film4peace.org for rules.

Arun Gandhi, via telephone, talked about how important it is for those who are in better socioeconomic standing to help those in need.

"A lot of the world is living in poverty and ignorance," he said. "There are millions of children who don't get education and live in that cycle of poverty without any hopes of getting out of that. I want to break the cycle and help them become constructive citizens of the world."

e-mail: scott@desnews.com

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