Afterquake — music to remind us that help is still needed

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afterquakeIt’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since tragedy struck Sichuan — killing nearly 90,000 people and displacing millions.

And while time can’t pass fast enough in putting that horrible day firmly behind us all, today is a good day to remember that its survivors are still in need.

Working hard to remind us all of this is a fantastic new project by folk artist Abigail Washburn and Dave Liang of the Shanghai Restoration Project called Afterquake. The 7-track album melds Washburn’s folk with SRP’s electronica and mixes in voices, songs and sounds from the people and places affected by last year’s earthquake.

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Abby & Dave with kids in Sichuan

The collaboration was inspired in 2008 through Abigail’s volunteer work for Sichuan Quake Relief where she performed in ‘relocation schools’ with kids from pre-school to high school – most of whom were relocated from mountain villages to schools in new locations far from their families.

“The children and teachers expressed intense grief at the loss of home and family,” says Washburn, a former Sichuan resident featured in Newsweek for her “weirdly wonderful” blend of Chinese culture and American-roots music. “I wanted to return and record their stories and songs in their own voices.”

A kindred spirit was found in collaborator Dave Liang, whose Shanghai Restoration Project combines the sounds of traditional Chinese instruments with hip-hop and electronica. His project has been featured on NPR, KCRW, KEXP and the Beijing Olympics.

A portion of the proceeds from each CD sold will go directly to Sichuan Quake Relief — and while you can buy the CD via Amazon and iTunes, if you go to the official Afterquake shop you’ll be able to help relief efforts even more by purchasing premium CDs signed by the artists, and CDs containing letters from quake survivors and limited photo prints.

This video was shot by Sexy Beijing‘s Luke Mines. More videos/photos are available at Afterquakemusic.com. This video is also available on Youku, but with Chinese subtitles.

(h/t Kaiser Kuo and Youku Buzz)

Talk on Afterquake — music to remind us that help is still needed


5 Comments
  1. Reminds me of the song from the episode of South Park where they build the ladder to heaven: “Where were you when they built the ladder to heaven?”

    I wonder how much of the proceeds actually make it to the victims after being filtered through these organizations?

  2. Both Abigail and Dave have agreed to give at least 33% of the proceeds to Sichuan Quake Relief (www.sichuan-quake-relief.org). As for how much of that SQR then passes on to those in need, well none of the donations go to fund administrative costs. All admin costs (office rental, utilities, staff wages) come from private donors who specifically want to fund that part of the organization. This allows SQR to put all of the donated funds into specific projects e.g. the Guangji Preschool & Kindergarten rebuild, Chengdu Sports Aid (sub group that gives displaced kids something to do on the weekend), food relief, etc. Also, the founder (Peter Goff) allows any donor to go with the group to buy supplies, and then see those supplies delivered. I can’t vouch for any other organization in the area, but I can vouch for this one.

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    @K.Allen: Thanks for letting us know. I’ve known Peter Goff for a while from here in Suzhou and would also vouch for Sichuan Quake Relief as being a stand-up organization doing absolutely amazing work.

    33% of the proceeds seems a bit low though. Assuming proceeds mean profits, as is the usual definition, I don’t think anything using a tragedy like this as a major marketing push should be less than 100% non-profit in intent. Otherwise you’re profiting from the emotional reactions of others to a horrible situation. Ethically, it doesn’t fit my framework. But I guess everyone needs to answer that themselves.

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