Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jason Mraz will headline a free outdoor concert in Myanmar this weekend to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and trafficking.
His performance at the base of the Shwedagon pagoda in People’s Square in Yangon is believed to be the first international concert of its kind in Myanmar, according to the Associated Press (AP).
He tells the AP that he has three goals: “educate, empower, engage.”
Jason has been a global ambassador for the modern abolition movement ever since he accompanied Free the Slaves frontline activists in Ghana on a child-slavery rescue mission.
His tearful account of meeting child slavery survivors was captured in the FTS video “The Journey of the Freedom Song.”
“I thought this (slavery) was something that was abolished when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation,” Jason recently told the AP. “But all it did is become hidden from our view. So I signed on, lent my voice, lent my music to the cause.”
Jason performed the “Freedom Song” at the 2010 FTS Freedom Awards in Los Angeles, backed up by energetic singers from the Agape Youth Choir.
Jason hosted a major anti-slavery concert in the Philippines last year, and now he is bringing his unique spirit of optimism to Myanmar, listed by the U.S. State Department as a Tier 3 country in the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, meaning it is one of the world worst hotspots for slavery.
“I’m going there with an enormous amount of gratitude and respect, and I hope we can actually make a difference,” Jason told the AP. “I hope it’s also a testament to the songs. I’ve always wanted my songs to be about healing and self-empowerment.”
Sunday’s Myanmar concert is being organized by MTV, and it will be broadcast internationally next year. It’s funded by the Australian Government’s Agency for International Development (AusAID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Walk Free, a global movement to end modern-day slavery; and produced in partnership with the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the United Nations Inter-Agency Project Against Human Trafficking (UNIAP) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
FTS co-founder Kevin Bales is in Myanmar now for the show. Watch the FTS blog for his notes on how things went!