We Are All Connected is the culmination of a collaborative effort engaging many members of the Berklee community. Early in 2005, a delegation of Boston women, including Bright Horizons Chair Linda Mason, wife of Berklee president Roger Brown; award-winning TV journalist Liz Walker; and the Rev. Dr. Gloria E. White-Hammond, traveled to the Sudan with Mercy Corps to learn about the impact of the civil conflict on women and children of Darfur. They took with them two songs: "We Are All Connected" and "To The Sudanese Women" written and performed by Berklee students Andrea Whaley and Farah Siraj.
The songs, the result of a songwriting competition proposed by president Brown and initiated by Jack Perricone, chair of the songwriting department, were produced specifically for the trip and presented to the Darfurian women as a musical gift from their sisters a world away. The music was played for women in the refugee camps on a laptop – a device that many of them were seeing for the first time. Upon hearing the two songs, the Darfurian women leapt to their feet and began trilling and singing in jubilant musical response. That outpouring of emotion was recorded in the field and brought back to Berklee.
During the trip, the Boston delegation heard firsthand accounts of the violence that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions to refugee camps, ripping families apart and leaving women and children homeless, hungry, cold, and in personal danger. Mason shared these stories with the Berklee Women’s Network, inspiring the group to take action to produce a full-length CD – including the initial two songs – with the goal of raising awareness and funds.
Submissions for We Are All Connected were solicited through another songwriting competition open to Berklee students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The participants were encouraged to use the field recordings of the Sudanese women as inspiration, and their voices can be heard throughout the CD. More than 40 songs were submitted for consideration. From that rich pool of talent, 18 songs were selected by a committee that included Mason, Perricone, Berklee Chief of Staff Carl Beatty, professors Leanne Ungar and Karen Wacks, staff members Shannon Kim and Lynette Gittens, Melinda Weekes of My Sister’s Keeper, and Laura Guimond of Mercy Corps.
The Berklee community mobilized not only for the songwriting, but also for the recording and production of the CD. Music production & engineering Professor Ungar lent her talents and considerable time to executive produce the CD. Other faculty members served as mentors and producers for student compositions, which were recorded in Berklee studios, other professional studios, and homes across Massachusetts. Guest artists appearing on the compilation include Meshell Ndegeocello, Abe Laboriel, Sr., Vinnie Colaiuta, and Jamey Haddad.
Songs from We Are All Connected have been performed at Berklee’s commencement ceremony, on the TV show Sunday With Liz Walker, and for tens of thousands in New York and Washington, D.C. In Washington, singer Patti Austin joined the group onstage for a performance of “We Are All Connected” that was broadcast on C-SPAN.
All proceeds from the sale of this CD will go to Mercy Corps and its mission to benefit the women and children of Darfur.
Berklee College of Music was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music was through the study and practice of contemporary music. For over 60 years, the college has evolved constantly to reflect the state of the art of music and the music business. With over a dozen performance and nonperformance majors, a diverse and talented student body representing over 70 countries, and a music industry "who's who" of alumni, Berklee is the world's premier learning lab for the music of today — and tomorrow.