Showing posts with label sierra leone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sierra leone. Show all posts

Friday, November 2, 2012

My New Music Video: GIVE PEACE A CHANCE with Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew

I'm really excited to release the following music video I completed with Sierra Leonean superstar group, Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew.

"Give Peace a Chance" was produced to promote peaceful elections in Sierra Leone, coming up on November 17th. There is already rising tensions in the country in anticipation of the elections so this song and music video is being used to encourage youth to not be swayed into violence.

Today, our music video made the top story on Sierra Express Media.  Check it out:

This project was exciting for me as it confirms the power of collaborating with local artists who have incredible influence in societies affected by pressing global health and development issues I cover in my films.  I'll be sharing more about an initiative I am developing working with these artists (musicians, filmmakers, poets, etc) but in the meantime, enjoy the music video and feel free to share and forward.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

High Level UN Meeting on Youth and Conflict

Today I'm looking forward to sitting on a high level panel at the UN on the issue of youth and conflict.  I was asked to participate in this because of a film and poetry initiative I did with UNFPA and the Women's Refugee Commission called Youth Zones (which you can view in English, French, Spanish or Arabic at

With Youth Zones, I traveled with youth activist Chernor Bah from Sierra Leone and poetry mentor, Luke Nephew from the spoken word/creative writing non-profit I work with - Urban Word NYC - to Liberia, Colombia, Lebanon, Northern Uganda and New Orleans to document the struggles and resiliency of young people facing conflicts and natural disasters.  My talk will focus specifically on the poetry workshops and how young people in emergencies can benefit and heal from such creative, safe spaces.

As part of my efforts to engage local artists in my film related outreach activities, I recruited Bajah from Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew to also sit on the panel to discuss his experiences as a youth growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone .Here is a really great 3-minute clip that touches on the experience of Bajah and his bandmates.

If you are attending the ECOSOC event at the UN or are interested in being a special guest, send an email to the RSVP listed on the invite above.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A new music video for the Olympics featuring Sierra Leonean Superstars - Be an extra!

TONIGHT, in Fort Greene Park, two major superstars from Sierra Leone will be performing a special track they produced to celebrate and cheer on the only athlete representing their country who will be competing at the Olympics - Olay Sissay, a long jumper.  I have been filmming the behind the scenes making of the track and will be shooting footage for an upcoming music video.  I need your help.

Let me introduce these two incredible artists and new friends.

Janka Nabay is considered a major figure in "Bubu Music", a traditional music in his native country that he mixes with the eclectic sounds of Brooklyn indie artists known as his "Bubu Gang".  He will be releasing a new album in August under David Bryne's label, Luaka Bop.

Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang are collaborating with hip hop sensation Pupa Bajah from Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew, also from Sierra Leone, whose music blends many influences in hip hop, including funk, dancehall and reggae. They are part of a growing international hip hop movement, though they are among the first of these acts to gain an international presence, with their music being featured in the Hollywood film, "Blood Diamonds."

If you are located in NYC, please come to this FREE show, and show support by wearing the colors of blue, white and/or green in honor of the Sierra Leonean flag! 

And speaking of the flag...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Contest for Best Photography in the (One Life) World

Hi all,

I have some personal thoughts about my role documenting Africa, the Motherland.  Click the link below to read my personal perspective and while you're there, vote for my photos.  The One Life Photography Competition will give winners a New York City photo exhibition and a $25,000 cash grant!

Click "Collect Me" HERE...or

Monday, June 25, 2012

How I Get Music for My Films

Those who know my work have come to appreciate the great lengths I go to to get good music for my films.  Most of the time I try to get music from artists who represent the country I am shooting in.  As music can become a pretty expensive line item in a film budget, I try to negotiate with the artists or labels something in exchange for their contribution.  Sometimes the content of my films alone (many are humanitarian based) will do,  Then others come up with some sort of bartering offer which I usually jump on - exchanging shooting for music. 

Case in point... I went out for my birthday a few weeks ago to a spot in Williamsburg called Zebulon and a great band was playing.  The vibe was high energy and the crowd was movin' and groovin'.  I knew the lead singer had to be from West Africa but didn't know where.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was from  Sierra Leone where, in February, I shot a film on how solar power is saving women's lives and I still need music.

I contacted the manager who put me in touch with Luaka Bop, David Byrne's label.   I know this label well considering it was the label that my friend and creative partner, Zap Mama, was on at the time I was looking for music for my film,  LOVE, LABOR, LOSS on obstetric fistula in Niger.  Working with Zap Mama taught me the power of working with performing artists in the distribution phase of my films that I utilize to this day.  And the philosophy is one I share with my incredibly talented friend and comrade, Maya Azucena, that has culminated in some interesting collaborative projects.

So, Luaka Bop agreed to let me use the music from the band - Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang -  in exchange for shooting some interview and b-roll of the lead singer who has an incredible story of growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone and found his way to music as his salvation and his career now here in NYC.  I loved this!

Now, not every label will be as cool as Luaka Bop but my point is, it's worth looking into.  You have to realize that some artists will benefit from being aligned with your film because you're reaching an audience they may not otherwise reach.  I try to add other incentives - like linking to their site from my film site, offering to distribute their promotional materials at my screenings, inviting them to speak at the screenings and so on.  Think from the perspective of the artist or label - if they aren't getting money from you, how else can they benefit from aligning with you?

Here are some photos from the shoot.  I'll post the video when it's done.  For those of you who live in NYC, they are playing a free show at the Fort Greene Park on July 10th.  I highly suggest you check them out!