Music to Build Bridges

bridges better than walls
With so many forces dividing humanity, some people figure this world should cease to be. As a matter of fact, one young man, Prince Ea, has recently gone viral advocating just that! In his first video, “Why I Think This World Should End,” he goes through a litany of woes that divide the human race, a veritable list of “shuns.” Pollution, corruption, discrimination, miscommunication, and so on. Add to that all the… the labelling we do to ourselves and each other, and it’s no wonder we feel down and disconnected.

from birth, the world force feeds us label...Prince Ea

But hey, his video doesn’t stop there. “Why I Think This World Should End” is not designed to pull us down, but rather to open our eyes, open our minds and open our hearts! Prince Ea, a 27-year-old “conscious rapper” from St. Louis, Missouri, aims to help people free themselves from “the illusion.” The solutions he offers have already resonated with millions. Let’s hear what he has to say.

Why I Think This World Should End

“No Matter the Culture, Race, Creed…”

Prince Ea (born Richard Williams), a spoken word artist, reminds us of a few things we’ve all heard before. You know, things like being loving, planting seeds of goodness, being compassionate, practicing kindness, stopping “changing others” and working to change ourselves. His timely genius is the ability to say these things in a way that more and more people can actually hear!

In an interview with Leila Janah, Prince Ea shared his views on what it means to be more human beings, to transform from within and without. He knows that the human heart is where it’s at, that when you transform the heart, you transform a world that’s suffering. He refers to himself as “an artist who tries to reach for that heart.”

“We all have pain, we all have suffering…I want to create a ground that every human being, no matter the culture, race, creed, whatever, can relate to….At the end of the day, we’re all the same. We’re all one.”

How Does Music Fit In?

“A Bridge of Light,” the name of this website, is about connecting us with our own and each other’s humanity. By sharing goodness and beauty—as reflected in music, books, photographs, stories, inspirational quotes, etc.—I aim to help people from everywhere get more connected, “no matter the culture, race, creed, whatever.”

music to build bridges between people

What better way to build bridges between people than by music? How does music do it? By getting inside and touching us deep. Music helps us feel our feelings, sometimes ones we didn’t even know we had! Feeling our feelings is vital in the process of transforming the heart.

Feelings aren’t about being better or worse; they’re about being real. They remind us of our humanness—our vulnerability (loneliness, longing, grief) and our strength (joy, belonging, love). It’s the same for people everywhere.

My Plan and Will You Help Me?

My plan, in a series of blog posts, is to feature pop music from different cultures and nations of the world. The purpose? To bridge the divides. In the process of my writing and others’ reading, you and I may find ourselves introduced to some pretty awesome music we’d perhaps not ever come across otherwise. I’m going to need assistance, though, because I don’t know much “foreign” music. Perhaps you can help me?

I need names of singers and specific songs–so voices and melodies combined–that draw forth our emotions.

  • It doesn’t matter if the singers are still alive or have passed on.
  • It doesn’t matter what language the songs are sung in. The more different languages there are, the better!
  • It doesn’t matter if the songs make you happy or sad.  What matters is that the quality of the singing and of the melody help you to really feel.

(For ways to contact me, see below.)

A Japanese Song as an Example

Here’s a beautiful classic that reached #1 on several Western countries’ pop charts in 1963. (One of few Asian songs to have made it big in the West.) A bitter-sweet song, it’s about a guy who walks and looks up at the sky in an attempt to hide his tears, as he reminisces a painful loss. Though the tempo feels upbeat, Kyu Sakamoto’s voice captures the ache of a heart that’s breaking.

I don’t know anyone who isn’t touched by this beautiful song. You might like to read the YouTube comments on this video, with its over 5 million views and over 32,000 likes! If so, click here. You can find out what this song personally means to hundreds of people. As well, you can find information on the singer, Kyu Sakamoto, who happened to die at too young an age, in a devastating plane crash. Thank goodness his voice lives on.

In Closing

If you have suggestions for singers or songs from anywhere in the world that meet my above criteria, you can share them below in the comments section OR let me know by clicking here OR by writing to me at: ramona.mckean@gmail.com. Please, don’t be shy!

Also, in the comments section below, I’d love to read your response to anything I’ve shared in this blog. Responses may include:

  • Your views on Prince Ea’s message.
  • What you think about my comments on feelings.
  • Your thoughts on music as a bridge to connect a painfully disconnected world.
  • Your feelings when you listen to the song known in the West as “Sukiyaki.”

Many thanks for reading my blog and for any comments you share. 🙂

About the Author:

Ramona McKean is creating a "Bridge of Light" (aka “a Bridge of the Heart”) to promote cross-cultural appreciation and awareness. An author and speaker, she lives in Victoria, BC, Canada.

26 Comments

  1. Lesly T. Federici September 20, 2016 at 7:38 am - Reply

    Hi Ramona,
    Nice to meet you! I found you through Marquita’s blog. I am blog traveling, reaching out to new bloggers and connecting with them. Love your words, and the video “Want The World To End”. I’ll be sharing it in my community on Facebook, very powerful. There’s nothing like music – it touches your heart deeply and can change a state of mind in seconds. Beautiful. So glad I found you. Thank you.

    • Ramona McKean September 20, 2016 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      Lesly, I am so happy you “found” me and I’m delighted you have enjoyed this blog! A “blog traveller”–interesting term. 🙂 Hope you visit again.

  2. Xin September 21, 2016 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Hi Ramona,

    Thank you for posting such a great blog article. I agree that good music can break the barriers between people from different cultures, ethnic groups and religions. Teresa Teng would be a great example. In some way, her songs have brought about so much mutual understandings between people from Mainland China and Taiwan. I think your project in sharing great songs from different cultures/countries will be helpful in bonding together people from different backgrounds throughout the world. By the way, the Japanese song you shared is really touching and beautiful. I was moved while listening to it for the first time even without looking at the lyrics. Of course, with the lyrics in English, the song has a more powerful impact on people’s feelings.

    As you know, Teresa Teng is my most favorite Chinese singer. The other Chinese singer I’m really fond of is Tracy Huang, who is also from Taiwan. She sings in both Chinese and English, and was very popular during the 1980s in Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Her “magnetic voice” is so mesmerizing! Despite her talent and fame, she has always kept a low profile, so not many people in Mainland China and other countries know about her. But she is really a hidden treasure. Here I’d like to share two of her songs:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHagrV_fj_U (I created this video on my YouTube channel and translated its lyrics into English.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkE-G_RImog (this is my favorite English song by her.)

    Thanks again for your great post!

    • Ramona McKean September 21, 2016 at 8:17 pm - Reply

      Xin, thank you for your beautiful and informative comment! Thank you also for suggestions re: Tracy Huang. I always love hearing from you. I agree 100% about Teresa Teng. I did write a tribute to her and, as is obvious, put my whole heart into it: http://ramonamckean.com/tribute-to-teresa-teng-jan-29-1953-may-8-1995/. Still, I plan to write an additional blog about Teresa and her musical legacy as part of this project to share world music to build bridges. Which songs of Teresa’s would you recommend I use, ones perhaps different from my previous blog on her?

      And, I’ve just got to say, I love the videos you create for your YouTube channel! They’re so well done, and it’s especially great all the English translations you provide. I hope others check out the videos on your channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIfWLCsXupRTo-2_O1Whkjg 🙂

      • Xin September 23, 2016 at 8:42 pm - Reply

        Hi Ramona,

        I think you could also talk something about the Japanese songs by Teresa Teng. Japan was a major part of her singing career as it was actually there that her artistic techniques were truly refined. In late 1980s, she became very popular in Japan, winning quite a few awards in singing. One of her best Japanese songs was “I only care about you.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jx5Vjj1wND0) And its Chinese version is also great. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N72dsXD2GdM).

        There is also a Chinese song by Teresa Teng that I hope you could feature in your writing. I’m sure you know it very well. It is “Small Town Story” (小城故事). The reason why I recommend this song is that it’s a very simple song, yet it seems that only Teresa Teng could render it so well. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vzmTa2y4Bs)

        Looking forward to your next blog entry about Teresa Teng!

        • Ramona McKean October 3, 2016 at 8:11 pm - Reply

          Xin, you offer such great ideas and links to such beautiful songs! Teresa Teng is one of my favourite singers of all time and my #1 favourite Asian singer. I love the Mandarin version of “I Only Care About You,” and “Xiao Cheng Gushi” (Small Town Story) is wonderful. I feature it on my music page: http://ramonamckean.com/music/. How it affected the people of Mainland China, I’ve been told, is hard to describe. Its celebration of the simple and beautiful things of life, in terms of family and friends, trust and love touched people so deeply, especially given the brutality of the Cultural Revolution. Teresa, her heart and soul as captured in that song, was a God-send. Was that your experience too, Xin, or were you too young?

  3. Jeri September 22, 2016 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Feelings are indeed about being real. Almost everyone I meet ends up commenting either on how honest or authentic I am. I guess that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a lot of strife in my life, or maybe it’s just because I’m of a writerly bent and prone to observing things. All I know is that if we do not feel, we are not human. If we do not connect, there is no hope. That doesn’t mean we can be perfect though. We just have to be open to the journey.

  4. Sabrina Quairoli October 24, 2016 at 11:33 am - Reply

    I am glad I watched Prince Ea’s message in its entirety. I always felt that even if we can’t be great, we can be kind and loving toward one another. So, I make sure I volunteer often and help others on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ramona McKean October 24, 2016 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Sabrina, I agree with you. What’s more important, greatness (power) or kindness? But then I guess it depends on what one means by great, maybe not powerful. It sounds like you have a beautiful heart.

  5. Doreen Pendgracs October 24, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Ramona. Music has helped shape my life and my moods on so many levels over the years, so I’m glad you are doing this post. For me, one of the songs that always puts a smile on my face and gets my feet dancing or at least tapping is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Love it and its message.

    • Ramona McKean October 24, 2016 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Doreen. I’ll be sure to listen to that song. 🙂

  6. Phoenicia October 24, 2016 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    Music is so much more than words and sounds. It brings healing, comfort, joy, excitement, hope. Music is very much a part of my life. Particular songs instantly bring me back to my childhood years, my youth or early twenties.

    Artists are able to reach out to us via their songs, this is their gift. A very beautiful gift.

    • Ramona McKean October 25, 2016 at 10:19 am - Reply

      Yes, yes! From your own personal ancestry, Phoenicia, can you offer me any musical suggestions?

  7. Marquita Herald October 25, 2016 at 12:51 am - Reply

    Hey Ramona, what a wonderful project! I’m already very familiar with the song Sukiyaki. When I worked in travel, Japan was part of my ‘territory’ and I spent a lot of time there so tried to educate myself on the language and culture. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of shock messages to wake people up, so I’m a bit put off by Prince Ea’s approach. Still, there’s a place for all opinions and I do understand the point he’s trying to make. Can’t think of any artists or songs to contribute at the moment, but I’ll think about it and let you know if I come up with something. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Ramona McKean October 25, 2016 at 10:21 am - Reply

      Thanks for your support, Marquita. As a matter of fact, I love it!

  8. Catarina October 25, 2016 at 2:57 am - Reply

    Music builds bridges. Something we desperately need in our world today.

    • Ramona McKean October 25, 2016 at 10:18 am - Reply

      Yes, my dear! Please help me with songs from your mother tongue?

  9. William Rusho October 26, 2016 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Music is one of the few things that connects us. We may like different styles, or how they are sung, but it is the feelings behind the music we can all relate to.
    As for me, I am so eclectic, I listen to almost anything. there has to be some emotional, or other connection I need to that music.

    • Ramona McKean October 26, 2016 at 11:48 am - Reply

      I can relate, William. My taste in music is eclectic too and for me it’s about the emotional connection.

  10. Sushmita October 26, 2016 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    I would just like to say ‘ Where words fail Music speaks!’

  11. Dan October 28, 2016 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Hey Mom,

    I enjoyed the blog and Prince Ea’s message. You say it well with: “His timely genius is the ability to say these things in a way that more and more people can actually hear!”

    This is true, his message is captivating and the backdrop to his video is also very captivating (the derelict building). After listening to it I had two main thoughts. The first one being the direction that companies take to sell their products, to create people who feel inadequate… to buy their junk… and how disappointing this is. The second is how fortunate I feel to live on Vancouver Island. I think anywhere you go you will experience or find racial problems and environmental problems or whatever the troubling viewpoint is if you look for it, or talk to the right (or “wrong”?) people. All of this trouble for me however is outweighed by the vast natural beauty that I see on a daily basis and all the smiling faces I am able to interact with on a daily basis. More thoughts on this are juggling in my head. Perhaps they will hit the page after I read your next blog post.

    Love you,
    Daniel

    • Ramona McKean October 28, 2016 at 6:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Dan. I love you too and your positive outlook on life! xo

  12. Tuhin November 2, 2016 at 1:08 am - Reply

    Music has always been the best medium to connect hearts. The world needs more people like Prince Ea to build bridges of love. I was just wondering if we (bloggers) too can team up for a cause…sharing collectively for the betterment of society.

    • Ramona McKean November 2, 2016 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Tuhin, your last reflection is an interesting one. Please share some of your ideas. 🙂

Leave A Comment