The Soul Force Sacred Music Festival takes place this weekend, from April 26 to 28, at the historic First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Pasadena.
The festival, defined by the Soul Force Project as an “interfaith celebration of ritual world music,” fills two stages and an outdoor patio. The lineup features a host of world music ensembles and soloists, including Arohi Ensemble, Fanna-Fi-Allah, Starr & The Lili’u Project and Grace Nono. The event schedule also includes a keynote address from renowned Civil Rights leader Rev. James Lawson titled, “Resurrection of the Spirit of Nonviolence.”
The festival is organized by Soul Force Project, an interdisciplinary multimedia movement founded by CalArts alum Paul Livingstone (Music BFA 93, Music MFA 96). Livingstone, a student of prominent composer, percussionist and the late CalArts faculty member John Bergamo, served as an adjunct in CalArts’ Herb Alpert School of Music from 1996 to 2001. Livingstone is also the director, composer and sitarist of the aforementioned Arohi Ensemble.
“The Soul Force Project and Festival was born out of my desire to present world music to new audiences that inspire people to see beyond any limitations that hold them, whether they be cultural, economic, political, racial or religious,” Livingstone told the 24700 blog during a recent email interview. “Nonviolent action steeped in love is a universal spiritual principle which provides for access to the deepest possible human connection while transcending our limited concepts and identities. Inspiring through music and understanding the relevance of nonviolent action is what Soul Force is about.”
Climate change awareness and environmental justice are integral to Soul Force’s ethos. Livingstone says that the organization aims to flip the switch from negativity to positivity, and inspire a joy and motivation to activate change in the community. The Soul Force Project mission statement further contends that the movement reconnects individuals “with an affinity for the whole human community, the planet and the biosphere we thrive in.”
“For those of us in a place of privilege we need to see clearly, we can only do so by relating to those less fortunate as us and discovering ways to change our own consumption patterns and standards which we sadly often accept as ‘good enough,’” said Livingstone. “Where we stand is not good enough to address the crucial issues of our time, whether it’s the refugee crisis, climate change, war or racism and intolerance. Music is a weapon to break down the walls and be free to enter into the beauty of the present moment. We hope that Soul Force inspires people to live their lives in a greater awareness of our power and the courage to change the world around us in whatever ways we feel inspired to take action in service.”
Check out the Soul Force Project website for the full event schedule.
Soul Force Sacred Music Festival
First United Methodist Church
500 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena