One of the most inspiring chapters in the long history of anti-war music rarely gets told. The narrators aren’t draft-dodging folk singers or far-flung soldiers — they’re innocent victims who suffered rape and torture at the hands of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, and they’ve turned to music to forgive their attackers.
Why forgiveness? Many of Kony’s soldiers began as victims themselves, abducted as children in Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. And while they’ve committed unspeakable crimes as part of the LRA, their victims know that forgiveness — and not shame — can turn them against Kony’s oppressive rule.
And it’s working. Since 1987, an increase in FM radio broadcasts have encouraged thousands of soldiers to desert the LRA. Since 2009, The Voice Project has supported the work of these singers with a project called Amplify Peace. Amplify Peace works with United Nations to build FM radio stations, help with the production of broadcast content for the stations, and help family members and ex-combatants that have returned home safely record songs in their native languages letting soldiers know they can come home.
Now The Voice Project, co-founded by Anna Gabriel, Peter Gabriel’s daughter, wants to help bring these brave stories to the world with a series of digital albums celebrating the messages of hope coming from the oppressed countries. “Home Recordings Vol. 1” features Peter Gabriel, Billy Bragg, Garrison Starr, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, REM’s Mike Mills, Angelique Kidjo and more.
“I think it’s great in that it’s very tangible,” Gabriel told Rolling Stone. “I just thought it was a stunning example of our music actually changing lives.”
And what does he think is the secret to its success?
“I think…one of the reasons that [Nelson] Mandela is still the highest regarded moral authority in the world in lots of places [is] because he came out of 27 years and instead of teaching revenge, he taught forgiveness.”
Check out the Amplify Peace project video below:
“Home Recordings Vol. 1” is now available on iTunes.