ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 40

Back on track with the music

New and old faces at Country Roads XV

By Esther Williams

It’s here again! The much anticipated Country Roads concert, now in its fifteenth year is back to delight local audiences on March 25 at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

Country music is merely a part of the event’s aim, says President of the Country Music Foundation, Feizal Samath reiterating its role in creating awareness on the plight of vulnerable children and providing them support. “Through music we convey the needs of children,” he said.

The event that has built up a reputation of providing wholesome family entertainment will feature the vibrant German group Mavericks, back once again and local groups such as Wildfire, Cosmic Rays, award-winning newcomer AD and the Country Revival Band that is made up of CMF veterans this year. British folk singer Astrid Brook who has previously performed in Nepal and conducted music workshops for orphans there will be a star attraction at the show.

Proceeds of the show will partly go to two projects recommended by Save the Children (SCF). “We are happy to collaborate with CMF and recommend and facilitate some community based work that we are confident will make a change to children’s lives,” SCF Sri Lanka Country Director, Richard Mawer explained. While the practical help to the organisations (IRSD – Institute of Rural Social and Development and SPECC – Social Protection and Environs Care Consociation) based in Anuradhapura and Mannar respectively would involve support to mobile clinics, educational material and birth certificates to those without them, the efforts in the long run would contribute to long term community development and build bridges between various ethnic communities.

Funds will also be channelled to Chrysalis, Association of Former UNICEF staff members in Sri Lanka who work to improve and protect the health, welfare and rights of some of Sri Lanka’s most disadvantaged children. Having worked with CMF before, Chairman of the Association Gordon Glick said the event would help keep the link alive.

For Feizal, the enriching aspect that has kept the concert going year after year has been the visible difference they have been able to see of their efforts. Around half a million children and their families have been touched by Country Road. The tube wells built with support from UNICEF in north central Sri Lanka are in good use, benefiting the communities they were meant for.

The 1500 mosquito nets procured through funds from a subsequent concert and distributed through Sarvodaya to village schools in Moneragala as part of the Million Nets for Million Children initiative have also made a tremendous difference in children’s lives. Earlier concerts have also supported measures to improve pre-schooling, nutrition and renovating post-tsunami libraries for children.

CMF has also been encouraged by others who have wanted to contribute more than the normal ticket amount, placing their donations in a white box at some of the concerts. Above all the committed music makers, who have voluntarily performed at the shows, genuinely believe in the causes that CMF has advocated. “Their solidarity and support is paying off,” Feizal says.

The Sri Lanka Tourist Board this year will honour the Mavericks for their support to Sri Lankan children. Country Roads is the longest running concert series not only in Sri Lanka but across the rest of Asia. Sponsors for the event are Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel, SriLankan Airlines and the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.