As a radio host, musician, ethnomusicologist and researcher, I’m sometimes asked the following questions: (1) Why are you affiliated with Wisconsin Public Radio, (2) why do you host and produce a world music program and (3), why are you researching sacred world music traditions?
(1) I’ve always loved radio, even at Rufus King H.S. in Milwaukee where my journey in radio began – Firmly, I believed then that radio was a powerful communicative vehicle – it remains so today! July,2016 The Rufus King Alumni Association honored me with the 2016 Distinguished Alumi Award In Media.
(2) Music, in my estimation is truly a “universal language” and sharing music, their narratives, discoveries unearthed from my travels around the world and, celebrating diverse cultures through music, is tied to an onus – my life’s mission. The sharing in fact gives me great joy.
In addition, something I don’t talk about as often as I should, is the importance of music and how it can I believe, change how we view each other- meaning people who are different, look different and hail from places that are so called, ‘different’.
Early in college as a undergraduate voice student at San Francisco State University in California, I struggled to find how my attachment to music might be used to celebrate ‘difference’. This reflective idea was inspired by my personal experiences, encounters with and witnessed-events of hatred, while growing up in my hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – a place that remains today, the most or nearly the most segregated city in our nation.
Encouraged by my parents and teachers at St. Gall’s Catholic School in Milwaukee, to love those that hated me in spite of their entrenched hatred, and not because of it, remains a challenge, though one I remain committed to.
(3) If, through my research, designed to link “universal messages” in sacred world music, a pathway is found that even marginally has the potentially to reduce human hatred, increases our understanding of the ‘other’, the stranger, those that are ‘different’, I will celebrate and champion any conclusions, data or findings no matter how small or remote.
Hatred, like love transforms us. My message is that “what people don’t understand, they often hate, what they hate they fear and what they fear they often kill. This is a disease in urgent need of a cure. Perhaps, music will lead us to one. –Jonathan