Islamabad - “Through music, we are spreading message of peace, love and brotherhood throughout the world. Negative impression about Pakistan and Pakistani nation is totally wrong. It is my second visit to Pakistan and I find Pakistani people very potential, loving and hospitable.”
These were the views of Mary McBride, the famous US musician and cultural envoy of the US Department of State, during an exclusive interview with Nawa-i-Waqt and The Nation on Wednesday.
Mary and her band have been on Pakistan visit since 3rd week of February last. Naomi A Mattos, assistant information officer US embassy, and James Cerven, deputy cultural officer US embassy, along with members of American bands were also present on the occasion.
Mary McBride and her band have released four albums including Everything Seemed Alright, By Any Other Name, Every Day Is a Holiday, and The Way Home. Mary received significant acclaim for her performance of “No One’s Gonna Love You like Me” on-screen and on the soundtrack of the academy-award winning film Brokeback Mountain. She has also performed with Elton John for the 35th anniversary concert of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and at the 2004 and 2008 US democratic conventions. Since 2011, Mary has served as a cultural envoy for the US Department of State, and has performed with her band in more than twenty countries, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Russia.
Mary and her band members, including John Kengla on guitar, Jon Spurney on keyboard, Greg Beshers on bass and Mark Stepro on drums, have performed thousands of live shows and have collaborated, performed or toured with Blondie, Chubby Checker, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Cyndi Lauper, Delbert McClinton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker, John Prine, Koko Taylor, LL Cool J, Lou Reed, Marcia Ball, Rufus Wainwright, Maria Muldaur, Natalie Merchant, Patti Smith, Mavis Staples, Philip Glass, Ray Davies, Son Volt, Sugarhill Gang, B52s, Indigo Girls, Tony Joe White, and Ziggy Marley.
Mary is the founder of the Home Tour (http://redirect.state.sbu/?url=www.thehometour.org), which uses live music to enrich lives, inspire and connect people, and engage communities around the world. The Home Tour assembles local and nationally recognised musicians to perform for and with residents in communities that do not have access to live music. These include long-term health care centres, homeless shelters, orphanages, prisons, supported housing communities, homes for people living with HIV/AIDS, homes for veterans, and homes for people living with mental and physical disabilities. Since its inception in 2010, the Home Tour has partnered with more than 100 social service organizations worldwide and played for tens of thousands of residents.
The Home Tour goes where most musicians don’t, delivering high-energy, high-impact performances and leaving an infrastructure to accommodate ongoing performances by locals and touring bands alike.
Mary has most recently founded a new not-for-profit organization, The Forum for Cultural Engagement (FCE), which oversees the Home Tour programs and develops international cultural exchange programmes in coordination with the US Department of State and private sponsors. Prior to founding the Home Tour, Mary also worked with the Institute of International Education to produce a series of multi-national programs, which assembled exceptional university students from more than 40 countries with high profile speakers for a dialogue on political and cultural affairs.
During this time, she produced programs in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Europe, India, Indonesia, South Africa and the United States. Mary was also a special programs producer for The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, where she conceived and produced The Pink Line Project, a breast cancer awareness program in 30 US markets; as well as the multiple concerts to raise money for the breast cancer cause. Mary was the co-executive producer of the Digital Club Festival, the world’s first online music festival featuring more than 200 performers in 40 venues throughout the United States.
“It is my second visit of Pakistan. I was here few years back when our band performed in Lahore Press Club,” said Mary adding since then I had many friends in Pakistan and I always wished to come here again.
To a question, Mary had high words for this program of US State Department by spreading peace and love message through music and art worldwide.
Mary’s band has performed in various schools and colleges including organization of special children in Karachi and Islamabad.