Pakistani artists often travel abroad either on a cultural tour or simply to export their talent and settle down. However, philanthropist and pop artist Shehzad Roy has always been a true patriot, trying his best to contribute towards society — Zindagi Trust being his most significant effort. The trust works to reform public schools, educate working children, and lobby the government to improve the education policy in Pakistan.
Simultaneously, Guns N’ Roses’ drummer Matt Sorum has been working towards the promotion of arts education in the US. Adopt the Arts is a foundation that unites public figures and celebrities to help in fostering creativity in public schools. In the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), 50% of elementary schools are not receiving arts education due to budget cuts. Also, 80% of its students live at or below the poverty line, so they do not have access to arts outside the school either. Hence, Adopt the Arts came to the fore with the mission of saving arts education.
Considering the renowned artists have a similar aim, what could be better than a musical collaboration? “Separated by 8,000 miles — Adopt the Arts and Zindagi Trust — are two non-profit organisations with similar missions founded by musicians [Sorum and Shehzad Roy]. This led Adopt the Arts co-founder, Abby Berman, and me to collaborate on the Gala to build bridges between different cultures,” says Sadia Ashraf, senior publicist of the Prenner Group, which is managing event.
“We are more alike than different. Our present and future generations are becoming a global village due to a universal culture of social media and communications. They need to be shown that regardless of race, religion and culture, how alike we are and that we need to respect other cultures to march towards peace,” asserts Ashraf. “Having entertainers and celebrities are an end to a means — it attracts people’s attention to the plight of children in Pakistan who deserve quality education and also many parts of America where children are poverty-stricken.”
Clearly, it is an exciting venture for fans of both the artists and surely an exciting one for Shehzad Roy as well. “It’s a big honour to perform with such names. Guns N’ Roses is the number one band in US. [Sadly], Pakistan is known internationally to export other items however, this is something different and way beyond it,” says Shehzad Roy, adding that music is a powerful medium for driving change.
While for a Pakistani artist, it is a huge opportunity, Storum, too, feels that is a great, peaceful effort to bridge the gap between the two countries. “I feel this collaboration is a solid step towards building bridges of peace between the East and West. Music is the universal language of humanity. If Shehzad Roy and I can join hands to help children, then maybe others will join us in a global effort to educate younger generations about each other’s cultures,” says Storum.
Shehzad Roy line-up consists of songs like Apney Ulloo and Kangna. However, he will also be performing on a new song called Land of Pure, in collaboration with the band called.