By Ashin Mettacara
Trinidadian singer/songwriter David Rudder and Canadian producer/musician Jeremy Ledbetter have teamed up again to produce a musical homage to the struggle for peace, democracy and freedom of the people of Burma. I visited their homepage and enjoyed their song, "how long." Jeremy and I became friends.
Jeremy visited Burma in 2007, for a month teaching English and grew to love the people of Burma. He dedicated a beautiful song to the Saffron Revolution and raised funds for victims of Cyclone Nargis. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce readers to a musician whose heart rests with the people of Burma:
Metta: Please tell me a little about yourself?
Jeremy: My name is Jeremy Ledbetter. I am a Canadian musician based in Toronto. I am 32 years old, but they tell me I don't look a day over 40!
Metta: What is your band's name and when did you start your piano? What is your position in your band?
Jeremy: I have been playing music all my life, starting with the piano. These days I am basically a freelance musician and producer, which means I play with a lot of different groups, playing a lot of different kinds of music. But I do work with a few people regularly, such as David Rudder who is a calypso singer from Trinidad. I have been working as his musical director for the past six years. Eliana Cuevas is a Venezuelan latin jazz singer who I also play with. I also have my own band, CaneFire, a Caribbean jazz group.
Metta: When did you develop an interest in Burma?
Jeremy: I visited Burma in April, 2007. I was there for one month, teaching English in a monastery near Yangon. I met many wonderful, generous people and made a lot of very good friends. I was touched by their warmth and their kindness, and by the fact that despite living in one of the most difficult situations in the world, they have managed to preserve an amazing lightness of spirit. I was also shocked to see the fear that people in Burma have to live with, day in and day out, all their lives.
Metta: what projects have you done for the people of Burma?
Jeremy: When the military started raiding monasteries last September, they came to the monastery where I was teaching and took everyone away. Most of the monks there had taken part in the demontrations in Yangon. Many of them escaped to the countryside first, but many others are still missing.
After a week or so I got sick of writing letters and calling politicians, so I started calling singers that I work with, asking them to write songs about Burma. David Rudder and Eliana Cuevas both agreed, so I produced songs with both of them, that are available on the web. David wrote a beautiful song, which features a recording of women chanting, that I recorded inside the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon