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February 28, 2014
Global Music Awards
Celebrating music worldwide.
Â Global Music Awards - Annual Humanitarian Award
2011 Humanitarian Award Winner _________________________________
Each year the GMA honors a musician with itsÂ Annual Humanitarian AwardÂ for music dedicated to social justice, humanitarian causes or environmental issues. TheÂ 2011 awardÂ goes toÂ Megan MakeeverÂ for her album,Â Unstoppable. Her songs bravely contain lyrics about personal themes such as body image, unrequited love, gratefulness and self-confidence. She has a broad appeal because she writes from experience about universal themes. Makeeveer is currently a flute performance major atÂ St. Olaf College.Â LINKÂ
The Unstoppable Megan Makeever
By Yayoi Lena Winfrey
With her bubbly disposition and warm personality, Megan Makeever seems a natural winner for the first annualÂ GMA Humanitarian Award.Â
Born and raised in Bozeman Montana, she began dreaming of singing at age three. By the time she was five, she was playing piano and later learned flute, guitar and cello.Â
Currently a senior atÂ St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Makeever says her teachers were surprised to learn she had released a CD, featuring songs she wrote and sang, because theyâ€™d only known her as a flautist enrolled in classical flute performance studies.
At 18, Makeever released her first album titled,Â Movinâ€™ On. Two years later, in 2012, cameÂ Unstoppable, her second album and the source of her GMA honors.
â€œI always wanted to be a singer and songwriter who played guitar and piano,â€? she says enthusiastically. Although she has no plans to stop playing the flute, Makeever is setting it aside for now. Rehearsing and practicing the instrument takes six to seven hours a day that could be used for creating her next album.
â€œI spend lots of time in practice and rehearsal rooms,â€? she explains, â€œand, I feel Iâ€™m not communicating with people the way I want to.â€? Her way of communication is through writing and singing songs. Although she still enjoys classical music, which she describes as â€œmusically and harmonically complexâ€?, Makeever thinks it doesnâ€™t reach enough people. â€œClassical music is less accessible to a wider range of people,â€? she clarifies. â€œThere are no lyrics.â€?Â
Growing up in a musical family, Makeever developed her skills naturally. Her mother, a flute teacher atÂ Montana State UniversityÂ in Bozeman, is a professional flautist. Makeeverâ€™s father, a retired trumpet professor atÂ Montana State, plays in theÂ Bozeman SymphonyÂ along with her mother who also plays for theÂ Billings Symphony. Makeeverâ€™s older brother just completed his music education at Montana State.Â
Although she was heavily influenced by her family, Makeever says they only encouraged and never pushed. Still, she admits, â€œIâ€™m kind of the black sheep of the family.â€? Citing her choice to pursue singing and songwriting, she reasons that itâ€™s because she wants to relate with everyone she can through singing about her own personal experiences. With a preference for simple lyrics and melodies expressing universal messages, Makeever says most of her songs revolve around body image and self-esteem issues.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of angst in post-adolescence women,â€? she explains, â€œWhat Iâ€™m singing about is mostly for young people who have been hurt, who have had a tough time.â€? Calling herself a closet philosophy major, Makeever says sheâ€™s â€œfocused on the concept of empathyâ€?, because she understands that most people are not much different than her.
â€œSome people think my songs are sad,â€? she confesses, because she sings about unrequited love, being used by men and heartbreaks. However, she also looks for the beauty in those experiences. â€œIâ€™m grateful (those guys) broke my heart because some good art came out of that,â€? she laughs.
Her goal, Makeever says, is to connect with as many people as possible by â€œtrying to embrace the concept of life. Instead of writing so much about my own experiences, Iâ€™m trying to create universal concepts,â€? she says. â€œThe life weâ€™re living as Americans, weâ€™re pretty well off compared to the rest of the world.â€? Yet, says Makeever, there are universal feelings everyone shares. â€œWe as humans are trained to suppress our emotions,â€? she expounds. â€œA lot of people are afraid to cry in front of one another.â€?
Makeeverâ€™s sense of humanitarianism is exhibited through her determination to connect to everyone through her music. â€œAt a human level, emotions are what relate us to one another,â€? she says. â€œI want to make people feel less alone in their feelings.â€? Listeners of her music, says Makeever, often approach her after a show to tell her, â€œI feel like you just spoke my life.â€? That, she finds gratifying. â€œI want to break down those emotional barriers and genuinely sing about how I feel,â€? she adds. â€œEmotions are the most real thing that I have and the most powerful are through music, whether playing in an orchestra or show.â€?
As for her songwriting process, Makeever says, â€œUltimately, itâ€™s the lyrics. Iâ€™m not the best piano or guitar player.â€? She says she uses background music as a vehicle for the words sheâ€™s trying to say and the stories she wants to share. Starting with a concept about what she wants to sing, she usually develops the lyric first. â€œI almost hear the lyric in my head and then the melody,â€? she says. â€œI have an idea of a general concept about what I want to sing and go to the piano. Then, I find a chord progression and the words and music come together.â€?
As for winning the GMAâ€™s annualÂ Humanitarian Award, which honors a musician dedicated to social justice, humanitarian causes or environmental issues, Makeever is ecstatic. â€œI hope this actually makes me be taken seriously as a songwriter,â€? she says, â€œwhich is something Iâ€™ve wanted to do for such a long time.â€? In the past, sheâ€™s feared promoting herself.
â€œItâ€™s been kind of hard for me pre-Global Music Awards,â€? she explains, â€œbecause I want people to listen to my music, but I donâ€™t want them to think Iâ€™m conceited.â€? Makeever says that after winning the award (GMAâ€™s Award of Merit), an article was published and, suddenly, a lot of people who knew her as a flautist began listening to her music.
â€œThey had no idea,â€? she laughs. â€œThey just thought I was a ditzy blonde flute player.â€? Makeeverâ€™s fondest wish is to connect with people on a deeper level and reach a wider audience. â€œThis has been a really wonderful thing for me,â€? she says referring to the Humanitarian Award. â€œNow my dreams are coming true, and I realize I have more to offer than what I say with just my flute.â€?Â LINK
Copyright 2012: Global Music Awards | Music Talent Competition | All rights reserved.
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2012 Humanitarian Award Winner
Each year the GMA honors musicians with itsÂ Annual Humanitarian AwardÂ for music dedicated to social justice, humanitarian causes or environmental issues. TheÂ 2012 awardÂ goes toÂ Robert Neustadt and Chuck CheesmanÂ for their album,Â Border Songs, A Collection of Music and Spoken Word. This collection brings together a body of music that brings awareness to the struggles of those who attempt to enter the United States without documentation.Â LINKÂ
Border Songs, A Collection of Music and Spoken Word.
An Album to benefit No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes.Â
by Yayoi L. Winfrey
Undocumented migrants entering America via its southwestern borders are often subjected to aggressive tactics by United States patrols. Forced back towards their own countries, theyâ€™re compelled to trek in the harsh dessert, sometimes resulting in death. To bring awareness to this multifaceted issue, Robert Neustadt and Chuck Chessman co-produced a two-record 31-track CD calledÂ Border Songs, A Collection of Music and Spoken Word.Â
Global Music Awards interviewed Robert Neustadt. He elaborates:
Q: What drew your attention to the plight of undocumented migrants?
A: Iâ€™m a professor of Spanish and Director of Latin American Studies at Northern Arizona University. In my first book, I wrote about a performance artist who was part of a collective that did site-specific performances on the San Diego/Tijuana border in the 1980â€™s. I've always had empathy for people who have fewer opportunities, privileges and resources. I realize now, nevertheless, that my early interest, while empathetic, was still fairly academic in comparison to how I feel today. Â
In 2010, I started taking students on field trips to the Arizona/Mexico border. When you look directly into the eyes of a deported person, and listen to them tell you their story, it changes you. Talking face-to-face, you realize that these are not statistics, nor are they â€œdrug dealersâ€? or â€œcriminalsâ€? or â€œmigrantsâ€?. They are human beings, mothers and fathers and children, people trying to survive and support their families. They have been dealt a bad hand.
Q: How often are those field trips?
A: Iâ€™ve taken students on similar trips every year since 2010. One year, I took two groups, which was crazy. This November, Iâ€™ll be taking another group. I have written an article about these field trips that appeared in UTNE Reader:Â LINKÂ Â Â
Q: What is No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes?
A: We spend a segment of the five-day field trips with No More Deaths/No MÃ¡s Muertes, a volunteer group that provides humanitarian aid to migrants and to recently deported people on the Mexican side of the border. We hike with No More Deaths and see how they place water on trails in remote desert. We visit places in the desert where migrants have died. To stand at the place in the desert where a 14 year-old girl died, while trying to reach her mother in Los Angeles, is a very emotional experience.
I have watched No More Deaths administer medical aid to migrants in the desert; people who had not eaten for three days, people who had been drinking cow stock-pond water. Their bodies were so compromised that at first they could not even keep down food and water. When you see people suffer like this, it makes you want to help.
Q: Why a compilation album and not your own solo performance?
A: When I came back from my first field trip, I was as moved as my students. It sounds trite, but it is simply a mind-blowing experience to witness raw human suffering. I wrote a song,Â Voluntary Return, which tells the story of some of the people we met and sang it for my friend, singer-songwriter Chuck Cheesman. Voluntary Return is a kind of deportation; itâ€™s the term used by United States Border Patrol when asking an undocumented person to sign a legal form saying that they are voluntarily returning to their country of origin. Chuck already had written a beautiful song,Â Uphill: American Dream, about an undocumented man living in Chicago who sends money, rolled up in paintings, back to his family. Chuck threw out the idea of producing a compilation and selling it as a benefit for No More Deaths. I thought the idea was brilliant, latched on, and wouldnâ€™t let go until he agreed to produce the album with me.
Q: How were artists selected? Â
A: Initially, the idea was to make an album with local artists, mostly folks from Arizona. We put out a â€œCall for Songsâ€? on the internet and invited people to submit songs for consideration. We received some incredible songs from people who are only known in their own communities. Then, fairly early on, I received a call from a musician in Tucson, Ted Warmbrand, who knows Pete Seeger. Ted also has contacts with DÃºo Guardabarranco, a really well-known Nicaraguan new song group, and Joel Rafael. Shortly thereafter, I received a message from a friend of a friend, Bill Carter, who asked if weâ€™d like to have Calexico, Michael Franti, Amos Lee, Sergio Mendoza and Giant Giant Sand on the album. These were all slam dunks, they brought the album into a whole new universe. Once we had this core of internationally known musicians, we took the initiative to contact other well-known artists, including Sweet Honey in the Rock, Tom Russell and Eliza Gilkyson, because we knew they had songs about the border and immigration. Everyone was delighted to be a part of the project!
I had contact with many of the spoken word artists because of my research as a professor and my work as Director of Latin American Studies. Margaret Randall is a really important poet who I had invited to give a reading at my university. Denise ChÃ¡vez is an award-winning Chicana writer and performer who we also invited to present at the university. I actually recorded her in the hotel after her presentation. I had written about RaÃºl Zurita, a Chilean poet, who has won the National Literary prize of Chile. The line-up on this CD is nothing short of brilliant!
Q: What is Glenn Weyantâ€™s â€œwallâ€? song?
A: Glenn Weyant is an experimental artist, a sound sculptor, who attaches contact mics to the border wall and plays it as a musical instrument. Iâ€™m not sure how they met, but he had taken Margaret Randall to the border and she was inspired by that visit to write the poem, Offended Turf. I met Glenn through my own research and had the idea of blending the sound of him playing the wall into a recording of Margaret reading the poem. Both of them loved the idea. Chuck and I kicked off the project by driving to Albuquerque and recording Margaret Randall. Then, Glenn Weyant sent us an audio file of his song, Droneland Security, and Chuck mixed it in with the poem. Chuck handled all of the audio for the project. He did a fantastic job!
The album is very eclectic. It goes from English to Spanish, from music to spoken word, and it includes an incredible array of musical genres, Blues, Corrido, Cumbia, Folk, Hip Hop, Americana, Mambo, Rock, Reggae, acoustic guitar and wall. Itâ€™s all held together by a narrative that defends the dignity of human beings no matter where they were born.
Q: How long did production take?
A: It was super fast, too fast really. I think we started in January 2012 and released the CD on Columbus Day, October 12, of the same year. We wanted to take advantage of the symbolism of that date. We also wanted to release the album in the Coconino Center for the Arts, in Flagstaff Arizona, in time to coincide with a multimedia art show, Beyond the Border: The Wall, the People and the Land, so we had to work really fast. It was the most intense project Iâ€™ve taken on in my life!
Q: How has winning the Award of Merit benefited the project?
A: It certainly feels good to have your work recognized! We had three primary goals with this album: To raise awareness about the humanitarian tragedy on the border, to disseminate meaningful music and spoken word, and to raise funds that will work to alleviate human suffering. So far, we have raised over $30,000 and the goal is to reach nearly $100,000. We are grateful to GMA for this award and hopeful that it will help bring further attention to the suffering on the border and to theÂ Border SongsÂ CD.
Q: Whatâ€™s a good way to help?
A: PurchasingÂ Border SongsÂ is a great way to contribute to the cause. We fund-raised the cost to produce the album, so No More Deaths/No MÃ¡s Muertes is receiving ALL of the proceeds. Each album purchased provides 29 gallons of water, or the equivalent in medical supplies, food or clothing for migrants and/or recently deported people on the Mexican side of the border. Of course, people can donate directly to No More Deaths as well.Â LINKÂ If they buy the CD theyâ€™re donating to the cause and they receive the CD. If people can get to Tucson they can volunteer in the desert. No More Deaths also offers an â€œAlternative Spring Breakâ€? experience each year for people who want to see first-hand what is going on.