Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Opening up the world, one song at a time....

I just read an article on the BBC News website that talks about the same things I mentioned in my earlier posting on MTV's launch in the Middle East: about how it's such a wonderful feeling to be part of history and of the world opening up when you perform in countries that have been 'off limits' up to that point.

Music has the great power to unite and I believe that that is actually the 'higher purpose' (though often unconscious) & the 'spiritual calling' of those that are being a performer/entertainer. They are here to bring a smile to people's faces, to raise their resonance and to express feelings for them that they might not be able to express themselves in any effective way.

The moments mentioned in the following article surely must be amongst the artists' favorite memories once they look back on their careers:

Musicians who changed the world

Rock icon Eric Clapton has been invited to play a concert in the North Korean capital Pyongyang. If he accepts, he would be the first Western rock star to perform in the Communist country.
He would also follow in a long line of performers who have broken down cultural barriers around the world.


Boney M tickets attracted big money on the Russian black market
Boney M were already big names in the USSR when they landed in Moscow in December 1978.
The disco group had already enjoyed smash hits across Europe during the 1970s, and a special Russian version of their album Nightflight to Venus was produced.
More than 100,000 people tried to get tickets to see the disco quartet, whose hits by then included Rasputin, Daddy Cool and Rivers of Babylon.
Very few Western acts ventured behind the Iron Curtain, although Sir Elton John did so the following year.
Boney M officially split in the mid-1980s into two groups with an original member in each, both bearing the Boney M name.
Last year, the group led by Marcia Barrett performed in South Ossetia, a region trying to break away from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
Georgia hoped a Boney M concert might convince the villagers of Tamarasheni to see the brighter side of life under its government.


Wham! outmanoeuvred Queen to put on the first show in China
Wham! wanted to become the biggest group in the world, but settled for being the first Western stars to perform in China instead.
In 1985 China was a closed communist state and getting it to agree to host an international pop act was a big challenge.
Wham! manager Simon Napier-Bell travelled to Beijing and made a continuous stream of phone calls to various government ministers.
He claimed to have lunched a total of 143 contacts, three times each.
Mr Napier-Bell also decided to sabotage rock group Queen's chances of being first.
He made two brochures, one featuring respectable-looking Wham! fans, and the other featuring Freddie Mercury in a flamboyant pose.
The Chinese picked Wham! and George Michael joined Andrew Ridgeley to perform in front of 15,000 fans in the People's Gymnasium in Beijing.
Fans on the upstairs levels were delighted and excited to see them - but partly due to fear of the secret police, those downstairs remained quietly in their seats.


David Hasselhoff remains a major singing star in Germany
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, Germans in both the East and West wanted to celebrate.
Their choice of star David Hasselhoff - already a soft rock sensation in Germany.
The star of Baywatch and Knight Rider was already big in Austria and Switzerland when he decided to cover a German song in English, called Looking for Freedom.
The song resonated with the mood of the nation and was a number one for several weeks.
When the Berlin Wall fell shortly after, the authorities organised a New Year's Eve party to celebrate.
Hasselhoff was picked to headline the gig in a move reportedly rubber-stamped by Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
He said he would never forget the sight of almost a million fans watching him perform at midnight, a moment which led to him being overcome with emotion.


The anti-US government tone of the Manics was a hit in Cuba
When Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba in 1959, he initially denounced Western music as a "decadent influence".
But that principle could be bent for a group willing to speak out against the US government.
So in February 2001 Welsh band Manic Street Preachers headed to Cuba looking, in their words, for an "adventure".
The Manics show was billed as the biggest rock concert by a Western band in 20 years.
The 5,000 Cubans who filled the Karl Marx Theatre paid just 25 cents a ticket, the then-equivalent of 17 pence.
The band made clear that they supported Cuba because it fought against Americanisation, and the set reflected that.
It included performances from Know Your Enemy, an album whose cover featured a Cuban flag.
Mr Castro stood and applauded after a rendition of Baby Elian, about a boy who was returned to Cuba from the United States.


Iglesias said Damascus was far less dangerous than portrayed
US President George W Bush's government branded Syria part of an "axis of evil" and imposed sanctions against it, accusing its government of backing terrorism.
But diplomatic rows did not stop Spanish sensation Enrique Iglesias from performing the first Western pop concert there for 30 years in July 2007.
Iglesias - who later said he was unaware of the significance of his visit - perfomed in front of 10,000 fans at an open-air stadium built specifically for the event.
The show was organised by a mixture of private companies and Syrian expatriates, with a promise that revenues would go to charity.
The organisers said they hoped his presence would encourage other performers to follow.