“Musicians have an especially powerful way to use their skills to raise awareness of causes. Singer/songwriter Amanda Abizaid has released an EP in support of HelpPhilippineSchools.org, a non-profit organization that helps children get the best education possible through the betterment of existing schools, working “from the inside out.” Walking In Twos, featuring the legendary Stephen Stills, is a 7-track EP including two diverse mixes of the titular song, which was inspired by Amanda’s experiences with the Aeta Filipino children.
I spoke with Amanda, and she described how the project was two years in the works. But the history goes back even further.
Robert T Wagner is a former US Marine and director of HelpPhilippineSchools.org Foundation (HPSF). His great uncle, father and uncles engaged in a casual charitable “tradition” that benefited schools in the Philippines beginning in 1901. Robert then formalized the efforts into HPSF in 2006. Amanda met Robert when she was around 7 years old, when he began dating her sister in Beirut. He has stayed in touch with the family over the years, following Amanda’s music career.
Amanda eventually visited the Philippines and came away with a strong conviction to meet, teach and inspire the kids, especially the girls. She wanted to inspire them through songwriting and help them think for themselves. “They know the American songs. They are more into copying, but I wanted to open their minds via songwriting.” She visited a few schools and discovered that basic needs like water and electricity are still barely being met. Amanda is hoping through her music the needs will get exposure, and she aims to get the water pump fixed, provide school supplies and increase the opportunities for kids to enter school.
Their overall mission of the organization (for which she is Cultural Ambassador) is to supply rural government elementary schools throughout the Philippines, beginning on Mindanao, with modern educational equipment, food and clothing.
I asked how Stephen Stills entered the equation.
“I have known him through his daughter Jennifer, and I am so happy that he wanted to play on the song. It is incredibly inspiring to have him on board. The EP evolved around that song.”
Growing up in Lebanon with four older sisters opened Amanda’s ears to many American artists, so Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young was in solid rotation. Stills has become a mentor to Amanda, and she is “very blessed to learn music and songwriting with him.”
Amanda describes her music as “neo-soul meets world.” Indeed, the tracks on the EP work well across reggae, trip-hop and electronica.
As we celebrate the 48th anniversary of Woodstock this week (where Stills and his mates had their second gig) and contemplate the political landscape, it is gratifying that the spirit of community is still present in the music scene.”
To purchase Amanda Abizaid’s Walking In Twos EP visit: http://smarturl.it/walkingintwos
For more information about Amanda or this release, please visit:http://www.AmandaAbizaid.com
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