Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Lonnie Park and the Earth Band

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Lonnie Park and Grammy® winner Ricky Kej over Zoom video! 

“Ricky Kej and an amazing group of musicians are joining us to inspire. They’re calling on us all to imagine a better world for every child.”– Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF

In June of this year, more than 25 million viewers in 75 countries watched the My Earth Songs Virtual Live Concert, a global initiative with Vivendi in support of UNICEF COVID-19 relief for children. Music from this remarkable family concert, spearheaded by Lonnie Park and the Earth Band and Grammy® winner Ricky Kej, features an all-star cast of Grammy winners and was then released as an album titled My Earth Songs on August 28, 2020, with all proceeds going to UNICEF.

Artists represented on My Earth Songs include six Grammy winners from around the world: United Nations Global Humanitarian Artist Ricky Kej from India, legendary Senegalese singer Baaba Maal (voice of the Wakandan soundtrack for the Black Panther movie), U.S. family musicians Lucy Kalantari and Jon Samson, South African flutist Wouter Kellerman, and two-time Grammy winner Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea. Also featured are the Earth Band’s primary artist/frontman, Grammy-nominated American singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lonnie Park; Grammy-nominated Canadian flutist Ron Korb; and Global Music Award winning Indian bassist and composer Dominic D’Cruz.

My Earth Songs delivers complex topics in bite-sized chunks packed with meaning that children can effortlessly assimilate. Every one of these fun, positive, and super singalong-able songs has a catchy tune with simple, memorable lyrics. Focusing on what’s needed to ensure a clean, green world for generations to come, each track was inspired by one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“My work with Ricky Kej has seen us performing at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and Geneva, the WHO headquarters, and at UNICEF and UNESCO events,” explains My Earth Songs’ co-creator, Lonnie Park. “As we witnessed complicated issues playing out on the world stage, it became apparent that getting adults to adopt new practices is difficult, but if we could teach the children early about taking care of each other and the planet, it could literally change the world. The best way we knew how to make that happen was through music.”

“Ever since I won my Grammy Award in 2015, I have dedicated my life and music to creating environmental consciousness and climate change awareness,” says Ricky Kej. “My Earth Songs aims at enlightening children through music, igniting in them a spark to spread consciousness among everyone with whom they interact. This young movement will spur a revolution to restore our planet and help it breathe easy again!”

My Earth Songs sets the pace with its sparkling, energetic opening track, “Shine Your Light,” which features the Mzansi Youth Choir, an ensemble that was established to provide opportunities for underprivileged South African children, particularly in Soweto. Other highlights include the multicultural “Born from the Land,” with lead singer Lonnie Park sharing the spotlight with famed Senegalese vocalist Baaba Maal, who presents soaring reflections in his native Fula language. “She Can Do,” a song that celebrates breaking down gender-based stereotypes, features Lucy Kalantari in a vocal performance loaded with verve. “In the Waterworld” showcases the jewel-like Mexican mariachi perfection of Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea. With his elegant phrasing, Jon Samson really illustrates the poetry within the relaxed ballad “Breathe Life,” which is beautifully complimented by Ron Korb’s Bansuri flute. “Bicycle Day” celebrates the world’s most efficient non-polluting mode of transportation through the artistry of famed flutist Wouter Kellerman and the clarity and storytelling confidence of Lonnie Park’s vocals.


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