Marvin Goldstein believes that music is more powerful than hate, that it is stronger than dissension, that it can overturn despair. If he had his way, he'd sit every enemy in the world down and make then listen to music together. Maybe then, he says, there would be peace.
In the meantime, he's working to change things one heart at a time.
Through his Peace With Music Foundation, Goldstein has set out "to bridge the cultural, religious and political differences of people everywhere through the medium of music."
A recent concert in Los Angeles that featured both an Israeli singer and a Palestinian singer is one example of what the foundation does. Another is the "Friends & Brothers: A Unique Blend of Gospel Favorites" CD and an upcoming concert that features Goldstein on the piano with singers Billy Dean and Thurl Bailey.
"I don't think you could find a more diverse group. If they gave awards for the most unlikely collaboration of artists, we'd win hands down," Goldstein said by phone from his home in Florida. "We have a short Jewish/LDS piano player; a tall, LDS African-American former basketball player who's into soul and R&B; and a Southern Baptist country singer.
"It just shows how music can bring together people who might never have come together otherwise."
The three will be performing at the Sandy Amphitheater Saturday in a concert that will highlight each performer individually, as well as bring them together for some of the gospel songs and hymns that are on the CD. They are also thinking about taking the show on the road, and are already talking about a repeat performance in Abravanel Hall for New Year's Eve.
Fate, determination and airports all played a part in getting the project off the ground.
Billy Dean had a layover at the Atlanta airport when he ran into Goldstein. The two grew up in the same area in Florida. Goldstein remembers when he was in his honky-tonk period, playing and jamming in Tallahassee, and a teenager would join in. "We said, 'This kid's got a future.' After Billy became a country singer, I always had it in the back of my mind that I'd like to do something with him."
So, when they met at the airport, the two sat down to talk. "I'd known Marvin most of my career," Dean said from his home in Nashville. "But I didn't really know what he did. He told me about the Peace With Music Foundation."
Then Goldstein met Bailey in a Delta Crowne Room when the two were waiting for a flight. It turned out that Bailey and Dean knew each other and had worked on other projects together.
Then it just became a matter of getting together. They were all so busy that finding a time when their schedules would mesh was a challenge. But, eventually, it all worked out. They went into the studio in May for the CD, which is now hot off the press. "We felt an absolute power in the recording process," said Dean. "We came from diverse backgrounds. We had never played together. But once we got behind the studio doors, it was like we had never not played together. It was really a great experience."
"It was a blast," said Bailey, adding that it was amazing that such different people could come together and have such a good time. "It just shows how music breaks down barriers. Very few things have so universal a language."
When he lived in Europe for four years, "there were people who didn't speak any English. But they knew the words to a lot of American songs."
Bailey has always felt the power of music in his life. "I wanted to be a musician even before basketball." Bailey's most recent solo CD, "I Am Not The Same," goes back to his own roots. "I've tried to modernize, to add my own flavor to some of my favorite R&B songs. It's been received really well."
He's also busy with corporate and church speaking assignments, and he co-hosts "Jazz Tonight" on KJZZ-TV during the basketball season.
Dean made a huge splash on the country music scene in the early '90s with such songs as "Somewhere In My Broken Heart" and "Billy the Kid," and he has continued to be a much-in-demand singer and songwriter. He does a version of his latest single, "Let Them Be Little," on the CD.
He grew up singing in church, "but this is my first full gospel CD." The album includes songs such as "Amazing Grace," "How Great Thou Art," "In The Garden" and "What A Friend We Have In Jesus."
Dean's favorite song is "I Am A Child of God," which "was new to me but had such a simple, powerful message."
Goldstein enjoys "how well Billy and Thurl complement each other." And, he promises, "their personalities are going to come through at the concert. It's a wonderful dream come true to work with these guys."
For Goldstein, this marks the 35th CD of his prolific career, and he feels it is something special. "It just shows how, despite diversity of background, music brings us completely together."
What: "Friends & Brothers," Marvin Goldstein, Billy Dean, Thurl Bailey
Where: Sandy Amphitheater, 9400 S. 1300 East
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
How much: $12-$20
E-mail: [email protected]