By Katherine Cole
Jason Mraz has already made music history by winning two Grammy awards for his music, now the singer-songwriter is about to make world history!
On December 16th, the 35-year-old singer will headline a free outdoor concert in People’s Square in Rangoon, Burma. The show will be at the base of the 2500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda, considered to be one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country.
Jason is the first international artist to perform an open-air concert in the country since the end of military rule there. And he’s believed to be just the second international act to play there in decades —the last such concert was Ozomatli’s 2009 U.S. State Department sponsored show in 2009.
Jason’s performance is part of an event hosted by MTV Exit, the music television channel’s initiative to raise awareness about human trafficking and exploitation. Several local bands will also be performing at the concert, which will be broadcast on national television. In addition to the music, the free event will include speakers who work to fight human trafficking in Burma. The concert will also be broadcast on MTV’s international network sometime in 2013.
Last year, Jason hosted a similar event in the Philippines. In a recent interview with Associated Press, he said he first became interested in the issue of human trafficking after attending the Freedom Awards. Put on each year by the organization Free the Slaves, these awards honor those working against human exploitation. According to MTV Exit, “there are more than 20 million people living in slavery around the world with Myanmar and Southeast Asia particularly affected. The concert forms part of a wider initiative that seeks to educate and train youth through innovative television programming, digital content, capacity building workshops and community-based events. ”
In the Associated Press interview, Jason Mraz said “I’m going there with an enormous amount of gratitude and respect, and I hope we can actually make a difference.”
I was lucky enough to visit Burma recently on a personal holiday. I had a great time as a tourist in that beautiful country and met so many kind and wonderful people. It was a very happy time for me and I hope to return one day. As you might expect, I came back with a ton of photos. Here are two of my favorites taken around the Shwedagon Pagoda.