College is a time for transformation. It can be minimal or vast, but nevertheless, most every college student goes under a transformation in his or her time at school. In this time frame, students undergo personality changes, changes in their future desires and aspirations, and changes toward their outlooks on the world. Students are shown diversity in ways they have never seen before, as people from seemingly every different demographic are thrown onto one campus to coexist. From then on, the views of the future are shaped, molded, and formed.
The Rock for Human Rights tour is here to help shape those views.
Led by founder and former Rock Star: INXS contestant, Wil Seabrook, and the “Justin Timberlake of Zimbabwe” Alexio Kawara, the tour will cross the United States from September to October, stopping at Springfield College at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 22 in the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union in a night that should not only entertain the students, but inform them as well. Seabrook is truly impassioned about the 30 Universal Human Rights, which include articles that span the ideas from everyone having the right to work to everyone being born free and equal.
“My hope is that we’re able to present human rights in a way that leaves a lasting impression on each person,” said Seabrook, “but that doesn’t come across as preachy or heavy handed.”
Seabrook had an interesting upbringing, as the child of parents who taught in international schools. He was taken all across the world during his childhood, which, in turn, provided a large part of his devotion to the idea for the tour. In fact, Seabrook was in Germany when the Berlin wall was knocked down.
Musically, Seabrook has performed solo, as well as starting “The Wil Seabrook Band,” and has had a record of his (You Do What You Have To) win Record of the Week on BBC Radio 2.
Kawara, on the other hand, is a star in Zimbabwe, and ranks number one n the country on Reverbnation.com’s jazz charts. According to the website, he sounds similar to Lionel Richie. A native of Harare, Zimbabwe, Kawara began music in choir in primary school; however, he now has his 2011 album “Tose” available for sale on iTunes.
The tour kicks off Thursday at Beaufort Community College in Washington, North Carolina, and from then on, the first national Rock for Human Rights Tour will stretch to college campuses and theaters across the country.
Logistically, the tour has been far from smooth sailing, as it “came down to the wire” getting Kawara a travel visa, according to Seabrook, so much so, it required last minute letters of recommendation and trips to the United States consulate in Zimbabwe.
“It was a real nail-biter,” said Seabrook. “I’ve helped people get green cards and visas, so I thought I was pretty good at it. We dotted all our i’s and crossed our t’s, but it almost didn’t happen. We didn’t want some bureaucratic snafu to stop this tour from happening.”
Now that he is in the U.S., though, Kawara is enjoying and taking in the entire experience.
“It’s my first time away from Africa. I’ve never flown out of Africa before… But I have loved the welcome. I feel at home here; I don’t feel like I’ve been that far away from home,” he said. Moreover, there are some major changes that he is getting used to in just his short time in the west, such as the time zones and driving on the right side of the road.
Now that Kawara is settled in (or at least as much as he can be for being more than 8,000 miles from home), the focus has turned entirely to the music. The band is getting used to playing African rhythms for the first time with Kawara, but they are starting to adjust, getting ready to perform, and getting their message across.
The tour focuses on the premise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that few know even exists, and increasing awareness across the United States, and soon other countries, about the issue. They will tour in a bus that is covered in human rights information and will play human rights public service announcements all day and all night to help get the message out in between performances.
A vast majority of the performances will be tailored to college-aged students, who are in their prime years of experiencing diversity.
“I’m hoping we can get everyone, especially the younger generation, to appreciate the human rights that are already in place,” said Kawara.
“College is a real turning point for most people because you’re beginning your life as an adult, but you’re also spending most of your time thinking about the world, learning new ideas, and shifting your viewpoint on how you see things,” added Seabrook. “People who are college-age now will literally be running the world 20 or 30 years from now, so I want to share this information so that they’re aware of it when they’re making important life decisions.”
2014 has been monumental for Springfield College in its attempt to increase awareness on human rights. Last spring, the school hosted a March on Washington panel of alumni who were a part of the historic event; the commencement address of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was taken out of the archives and brought back to the forefront as a highlight of Springfield College history in celebration of the speech’s fiftieth anniversary. There have even been performances such as “The Black Jew Dialogues” that have graced campus and made the school more aware.
That will continue on Monday when the Rock for Human Rights Tour hits Springfield College.
Music speaks all languages, and the results of such a performance will be far-reaching in the growth of a campus looking to continue to bring diversity to the forefront in a new school year and beyond.
To learn more about the Rock for Human Rights Tour, visit http://www.rockforhumanrights.org