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VOL 3. NO. 13 Friday, March 2 - Thursday, March 15, 2001
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The Word Is Out, Positive Music Works!
By Avonie BROWN
On a daily basis our consciousness is bombarded by information we cannot control and much of it is a negative intrusion. Even if you choose to listen to music you must first filter out the misogyny and violence that overwhelms so much of popular music. Occasionally, music that is life affirming breaks through this toxic mold and enjoys mass success. And its widespread appeal makes it clear that there is an audience for positive music and you need not compromise the bottomline.

Courtesy Photo

Amiel has always understood this. In an interview, the founder of the independent record label Positive Music Works, pointed out that in the District as well as in communities throughout the country, there is a growing body of men and women who are providing a positive alternative to the "bleep" filled music we hear on radio. "Throughout my career I've never been a mainstream kind of performer. I've played music all over the world and the focus has always been on positive music. And I've met or worked with many people who are just as committed to the music," said the former member of The Manhattans. "Positive Music Works was formed for the expressed purpose of connecting with people to create a strong network to force radio and distribution outlets to focus real attention on our music."

Amiel said there is great opposition to this, as the powers that be do not want to see positive music succeed. "They would then have to move over because if people are given a choice they will choose positive music, that's already been proven. With the right type of promotion they can sell anything to us. But they do not want to open the floodgates to positive music because they are looking at how it will affect their market and they have already cultivated a market for the kinds of negative music that's out there now."

Positive Music Works is not preoccupied with discussions of censorship. Instead, they want to reclaim the audience and return all urban contemporary music to conscientious musicians. "People are looking for music that will soothe, heal and support the peaceful lifestyle that they really want to live. You cannot create that kind of a wholesome life if all you hear is negativity. To create something different you need the reinforcement that positive music can provide. And Amiel's own recording is proof positive of this.

We received his latest CD in the midst of a series of crises here at {Metro Connection,} most significantly the death of our friend and photographer Dazine Kent. We had very little interest in the work at hand but I was drawn to the name of the CD {Push On;} it seemed almost instructive. From the very first note I was caught up in its lyrical and thematic clarity and the melodic expressiveness of the entire collection. The music grabs your attention causing you at times to pause and reflect and at other times to getup and dance. For a moment the music takes you where you want to be -- at peace.

Amiel wants this kind of reaction to be the norm, not the exception. So, consistent with its mandate to create, promote, manufacture and distribute positive music, Positive Music Works has developed the Lyrics for Living Program. The initiative targets area students in an effort to generate interest and excitement around positive music and to identify, support and expose the talented to potential music industry success. Students will get a hand-on experience of all aspects of the music business guided by industry mentors. The best works will be selected and a CD and video will be professional produced, marketed and distributed and the student and the school will reap the benefits. "But it extends even further," insisted Amiel. "This will create a positive movement in the community surrounding the school, so we all we ultimately benefit."

He has no doubt that a program focused on positive music will attract the attention and excitement of a generation of students who have grown up in the age of "gangsta" rap. "I'm not worried about their response because we are going to get their response," Amiel said. "The talented students who will participate in this program will have to keep their grades up as well as their appearance and behavior. When the CD and video is produced, other students in the school and community will be able to see one of their own `blow up;' that excitement alone with draw others to the program. They will know first hand that positive music works."

Endorsed by U.S. senators and DC City Council members, the program has recently formed a partnership with the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). The Lyrics for Living Program will be based at UDC and is expected to spark a revitalization of projects like the university's radio station and offer scholarship opportunities to participating high school students. "UDC can become a hub for positive music and positive entertainment. We expect to run a very comprehensive program that will include seminars and performances with positive performers locally, nationally and internationally in all genre of music."

Amiel, who recently helped to coordinate and performed at a benefit concert for Winnie Mandela and Support A Child International, is next scheduled to headline Earth Day celebrations at UDC on April 21. The daylong event will include seminars and workshops during the day and an evening concert. Copies of {Push On} are available at Borders and Books-Pentagon City, Georgia Avenue's Everlasting Life Food Coop and Soul Vegetarian Restaurant. For more information about Amiel's music and performance or the Lyrics for Living Program call 202-291-9244 or 202-251-9304.

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