PeaceTones: The Beginning

The genesis of the PeaceTones project came from a long walk that Dan Rainey and I took in Liverpool.  I had been thinking about asking folks in the developing world to create ringtones for sale, since back in 2008, many of us were experimenting with new ringtones on our cellphones for the first time.  Dan disabused me of the idea that this would work and suggested instead that we just get music from the very talented musicians we might find anywhere in the world, but particularly in the global south.  From that PeaceTones was born.

At that time, I was teaching Global Cyberlaw at Bentley University, a business undergraduate school in Waltham, Massachusetts.  In one of my classes I talked about PeaceTones, and one of my students approached me after class and offered to help.  She suggested that we would need a weekend to diagram every step that it would take to not only find musicians in countries we had never visited, but also  then how we would get equipment to these countries to record the music, and, how we would select the talent. So over one very long weekend, my student dragged hundreds of steps out of my head.  Thank goodness I was teaching at a business school, because I never would have had the patience to list all those steps. Shortly after that, she suggested we apply for a grant.

At the time a couple of my board members, Ordelio Sette and Jim Silkenat, were part of the organizing group which was in the process of creating The World Justice Project.  They told me that the WJP had an opportunity fund, so we applied for their grant in the summer of 2008. Using the aforementioned step by step process and identifying Ghana, Haiti, Afghanistan, Brazil, Sierra Leon, the West Bank and Israel as our initial countries to approach, we applied for and won a $25,000 grant.

At that point, I started looking for recording equipment.  Helped by my neighbors not only did we go out and buy and set up our original recording equipment, we also selected Lauren’s AKAA project in Ghana to do some initial recordings.   Meanwhile, Dan Rainey found a great recording artist from Sierra Leone, Jay Arr; Colin Rule introduced us to Ato Pereferico, a young group of hip hop teenagers from a favela in Recife, Brazil, and a Tufts student, Valerie Schenkman, and I went to Haiti and she recorded many tracks from a rural area in the northeast of Haiti.  Lauren and her dad went to Ghana and recorded tracks. We had our first music. Though we visited Afghanistan and the West Bank and Israel that first summer (2009), we were unable to get music recorded, though the trip to Afghanistan led to the Internet Silk Road project. And, we hope to get back to the Middle East.

Post By IBO President & Found Jeff Aresty

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