KARACHI: On their first ever visit to the region, American country music troupe, Blended 328, brought the residents of Darul Sukun to their feet with an exhilarating performance on Sunday morning.
In a bid to highlight the orphanage’s issues so that its administration could muster much-needed support, the US Consulate General in Karachi had scheduled the band to perform at the centre in front of 230 children with learning disabilities. The six-member band was touring Pakistan on the invitation of the US Embassy, Islamabad as part of their ‘Country Music for the World’ tour.
Darul Sakun in-charge, 65-year-old Sister Ruth Lewis, who has been associated with the orphanage since 1969, was elated when she saw the children enjoying the perfomance. Vocalists Kimberly Phillips and Fran Hart stepped off the stage and into the excited crowd who, spurred on by the friendly artists, danced enthusiastically till the end of the performance around noon.
Vocalists Dallas Brown and Fran Hart dance along with the crowd as they perform their songs at Darul Sukun on Sunday. PHOTO: EXPRESS
“The band’s vision is to initiate a positive change in the world by breaking down social and racial barriers and promoting qualities of love, peace, respect and inclusion through country music,” said Gabe Jordan, one of the band’s co-founders along with Fran Hart.
To Jordan, the genre of country music was very much a universal phenomenon as its themes were based on the values of family, faith, hard work and honesty. “All these themes are a universal concern and are as much associated with Pakistan and the rest of the world, as with the United States,” he explained. “With its capacity to communicate across geographical and cultural borders, country music can be an effective tool to bridge gaps.”
The US consulate spokesperson, Richard Silver, nodded in affirmation as he added that the needs and hopes of the common resident of Nashville and Karachi were very much the same and country music was strongly linked with these. “There are misconceptions about every country and I am sure the average Pakistani has false impressions about the United States like Americans have about Pakistan,” he said.
Despite the tense security situation, Silver said that the American band’s arrival in Pakistan was a positive sign. “We need to build on this foundation and generate more opportunities of people-to-people interaction between the two counties,” he said. “In this way we would know we have more in common than different.”
The band’s lead vocalist, Kimberly Phillips, believed that music provided a uniform platform for people of both countries to interact and share their struggles for a better life without being Americans or Pakistanis. “The experience has been so humbling and insightful - a complete contrast to the preconceived notions with which we came here,” she said. “What the media usually portrays of Pakistan has proven wrong. ‘We are all one people’ is the lesson we have learnt here.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2013.
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