We Want Peace concert at Southern Ground Amphitheater next week

Emmanuel Jal

Southern Ground Amphitheater’s summer concert series may be over but the venue will be rocking next Tuesday night with the Any1Can: We Want Peace benefit concert and art show. The concert will benefit “Raising South Sudan,” sponsored by Mothering Across Continents, a non-profit project that supports school building and education in the world’s newest country South Sudan. The concert will feature award-winning singer and musician Emmanuel Jal, known for the worldwide hit song, “We Want Peace.”

Many students in Sonya Cunningham’s English classes at Fayette County High School did project research on Sudan and were excited to meet a former Lost Boy of Sudan last year. The Lost Boys is the name given to more than 20,000 boys who were displaced in a Civil War in Sudan. The school started a chapter of STAND, the student-led division of United to End Genocide, last year and they and the National Honor Society at the school did fundraising for the group. This year they wanted to do something more and have a larger impact. The result is next week’s concert and proceeds will be designated for non-profit school building and educational materials in South Sudan.

In addition to Jal’s performance, which will include members of bands, orchestras and choruses from Fayette County High School, Whitewater, Sandy Creek, Flat Rock Middle and Bennett’s Mill Middle, ticket holders will engage in a variety of arts activities, including creation of inspirational T-shirts and “Peace Squares” that will be delivered to South Sudan. An auction of paintings donated from local arts business will also take place.

Jal, a former child soldier, became interested in music and has performed with recording artists such as Peter Gabriel and Alicia Keys and was featured on the fundraising album “War Child - Help a Day in the Life.” He was awarded the Common Ground award for his peace efforts and works to build schools in Sudan and provide scholarship opportunities to South Sudanese refugees. Jal realizes that the arts serve as an amazing outlet for troubled youth as well as for general growth and creativity.

The gates will open at 6 p.m. The audience can browse the art and food tents and bid on silent auction items. At 7 p.m. there will be an introduction to the evening with a poet and an act by the school’s dance team. Nathaniel Nyok, a former Lost Boy of Sudan, will introduce Jal who will perform from 7-9 p.m. He will perform several selections with local students to emphasize that youth can be the voice of change.

It is a message that many students at Fayette County High School believe. They are recognizing a global issue and doing their part to learn more about the problem and finding ways to help. Last week they heard from Ngor Kur Mayol, a former Lost Boy of Sudan who has lived in Decatur since 2001. After returning to Aliap, Unity State, South Sudan and seeing that his village still lacked education, he has worked diligently to have a school built in his village, and Fayette County, through the Any1Can: We Want Peace Benefit Concert and Art Show is proud to be a part of this effort.

For more information, visit http://fchsstand.wix.com/emmanueljalconcert#!home/mainPage or purchase tickets at southerngroundamp.com or http://motheringacrosscontinents.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=4229

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