Mister G and the Global Citizen Ensemble’s debut album, Children of the World, unites musicians across five continents and fourteen countries (including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Romania, Iran, Liberia, Senegal, Vietnam, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Mexico, France, Jamaica and the US).
Each of the twelve tracks developed organically through video calls and emails exchanged while sheltering in place. Ben would share a new song and an artist would hear something intriguing and then embroider it with his or her unique cultural perspective. That might be a rhythm, as on “Talking Drum Alarm Clock” which features West African drum master, Massamba Diop (Baaba Maal, Black Panther Soundtrack) or a traditional instrument such as the Đàn Tranh, played by Tri Nguyen from Vietnam on “The Bamboo Bridge”.
GRAMMY-nominated bass vocalist and outspoken racial justice advocate, Armand Hutton, brought his own musical heritage to the album, underpinning “Earth Beneath Your Feet” with rhythmic call and response and rousing gospel harmonies that feature Cienna Alida.
“‘Harmony’ is often used as a word that means togetherness,” said Hutton in a recent interview with the Recording Academy. “But we know that it is a basic musical term, so we must once again make the word "ours" by leading the charge against division, and doing our best to embrace each other's differences.”
GRAMMY-nominated Chilean Jazz vocalist, Claudia Acuña, lent her exquisite phrasing to the bilingual song “You & Me (Tú y Yo)”, which speaks to immigration and articulates a call for unity.
“If you only know how much this album brightened my day, thinking of all the children and families, and myself as an immigrant.” said Acuña in a recent phone conversation, “I wish that I had grown up with music like this.”
The album also features the voices and perspectives of children from around the United States, who urge adults to take the pandemic seriously in “Put On That Mask” and rally around the new normal in “Washing Our Hands,” a funk track that aims to turn hand washing into a celebratory ritual.
Producing the album from his home studio in Western Massachusetts, Ben was humbled by the generosity, trust, and fluidity offered by an ever-growing cast of characters, many of whom had never met or worked together before. The result of this unusual collaboration is a vibrant global soundscape that effortlessly traverses borders and exemplifies the idea of music as a universal language.
Much like Ritmo y Rima – Ben’s Spanish language record released earlier this year - the album has two voices: children will be drawn to the captivating songs that explore subjects like dinosaurs, marimbas, and eco-activism. Adults will appreciate the wide range of musical styles, the educational value, and the themes of unity and hope. And listening beyond the lyrics, one discovers a narrative of quarantine as a creative springboard. and the exponential power of music to dissolve boundaries.