“Rhythm is at the center of humanity. He who knows rhythm knows the world,” said American percussionist Mickey Hart, best known as one of the two grateful dead drummers.
He is at the center of special performances and video features, with the posthumous presence of legendary percussionist Sikiru Adepozu, Zakir Hussein, Giovanni Hidalgo and West African drummer Babatund Olatunji.
Born out of a collaboration between Playing for Change and Planet Drum, the “King Club” is a document signed in South Africa in 1996 on the occasion of the Durban Declaration Memorandum, backed by the United Nations agency Sexual and Reproductive Health, UNFPA.
The musical instrument was created as part of the special opening of the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the September 22nd anniversary of the people of African descent, ethnic justice and equality.
One of the most mentioned and universally used rhythms, known as ‘clavé’, “King Clavé”, calls for a rhythmic image of a skeleton, surrounded by various African, Caribbean, South American and New Orleans music playing various drums and percussion, from South America.
According to its creators, through rhythm, “the heart is connected, and the differences disappear, illuminating how deeply interconnected humanity is and revealing that we are one”.
Art for social justice
The new part follows the unprecedented success of peace through music: a global event for social justice in 2020, a collaboration between Playing for Change and UNFPA, who have decided to continue their journey to unite the world through the power of music.
In the midst of the Covid-1 pandemic epidemic, music through peace was set up as a virtual event and concert to inspire people to work for peace and justice, for everyone everywhere. The global event called for equality, human rights and an end to inequality and reached 4 million views in the 48 hours of its exclusive Facebook premiere, connecting and inspiring millions of people in 193 countries.
The history behind the creators
Mickey Hart was one of more than 200 musicians who established peace through Music 2020, who created Planet Drum with tabla player Zakir Hussain.
Planet Drum members have a long history with the UN and activism – the drums of the late Babatund Olatunji in 200 Bab were screened during the exhibition “Breaking the Silence, Beating the Drum”, to commemorate the International Victims’ Remembrance Day. Slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, and he had previously performed at the UN General Assembly, and Zakir Hussein performed at the UN for the first International Jazz Day in 2012.
Planet Drum was founded in 1990 to show how the power of rhythm can connect people from different cultures and geographical backgrounds.
The musicians then join Mickey Hart in his studio for a week of progressive rhythmic compositions, and create specific grooves, then cut the rhythm, each track representing a different strand of traditional thematic music – eventually combining it.
Playing for Change has been bringing musicians together for the past 20 years by recording and filming and “singing all over the world.”
The Foundation has established 15 music schools that celebrate art and culture in less-served communities around the world.
According to Play John for Change co-founder Mark Johnson, “King Clave is a festival of rhythm around the world, and through music we reconnect the heartbeat through shared humanity.”
Later this year, a longer version of the project will be shared. Stay tuned.