A Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian walk into a recording studio…
It's no joke. Abraham Jam is a trio of internationally-renowned musicians who have teamed up to create music that is strengthened by the differences they bring to the table. Amidst divisiveness and alienation, Abraham Jam believes in the healing power of music to dissolve the illusion of our separateness, song by song.
Billy Jonas, David LaMotte, and Dawud Wharnsby are three 'brothers' from the three Abrahamic faiths. Individually, they are well-respected and well-loved artists, performing extensively over the last few decades, playing over 10,000 concerts and releasing more than thirty-five albums altogether. When they join forces, the sum is even greater than its individual parts.
“Harmony is even better than unity,” says LaMotte. “We don’t have to sing the same note to create beauty, we can sing different notes that draw out the beauty in each other.” Instead of just taking turns sharing songs, they create music together, contributing vocal harmonies, percussion, and instrumentation to each other’s songs.
History and Biography
Abraham Jam was born in 2010. Catalyzed by instances of rising xenophobia and religious intolerance in the world, LaMotte, who was working with the North Carolina Council of Churches at the time, came up with the concept as a means to form interfaith respect and cooperation. Their seminal event was at Duke University, and included notable Jewish singer-songwriter Dan Nichols. Also in attendance at that first Abraham Jam concert was Billy Jonas, who now represents the Jewish dimension of the band (with Dan's blessing!).
Billy Jonas, a performer, songsmith, educator, and multi-faith advocate, has performed worldwide since 1987. An accomplished guitarist, vocalist, and percussionist who plays traditional and found/created instruments, he has a knack for inspiring audiences to join in. His award winning CD’S/DVD’s and performances have taken him from the White House to the West Bank/Palestine, and from the U.K. to Israel. “What a privilege to play and harmonize with two world-class musicians, who have polished the lenses of their different faiths so beautifully,” says Jonas. “I learn so much each time!”
David LaMotte has performed thousands of concerts on five continents, in addition to writing three books and engaging in peace and justice work around the world. In 2010, he took a two-year break from music to earn a masters in International Studies, Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia as a Rotary Peace Fellow. These days, he is almost as occupied with speaking engagements as he is with music.
Dawud Wharnsby is a Canadian-born poet, songwriter and artist. He began sharing his songs with audiences as a street performer in his late teens. Over two decades later, his career as a troubadour has yielded fifteen solo albums, five poetry anthologies, numerous soundtrack credits, performances in some of the world’s most prestigious theaters and collaborations with internationally celebrated artists.
“For thousands of years, in villages spread out around the world, song was a way for common people to share and pass along their stories,” he explains. “Today, when we’re so interconnected through travel and technology, it is important that we also communicate through this ancient form. We need to sing our world’s ongoing story together.”
Abraham Jam has performed for the Festival of the Sacred Arts in Michigan, and for the 2016 Parliament of World Religions in Utah, among other events and venues. Now they are heading into the studio to create two albums — the first is a live recording taken from a recent concert in Asheville, NC, and the second a studio project.
Why Two CD's?
"A live record is basically a photograph," LaMotte says. "You can manipulate it a bit afterward in the darkroom, but basically it is a record of what happened. A studio album, on the other hand, is a painting. There are infinite options for aural colors, textures, contrasts and combinations in order to craft the art you envision. They are extremely different, and they bring different value. We really want to offer both."
The guys from Abraham Jam will team up with Chris Rosser at Hollow Reed studio in Asheville, NC to mix the live album, then will continue work on their studio recording there, as well. Top-notch artists will be invited to work on the CD art.
Scroll down for videos of several Abraham Jam songs!
What Will This Project Fund?
The live album will cost about $12,500. Here's how it breaks down:
Original live recording (live sound and recorded sound - already paid) $2,000
- Mixing and mastering $6,300
- Photography, design and manufacturing (2000 CDs) $4,200
The studio album will take more time and investment. Here's the best estimate:
- Studio recording, mixing, and mastering, guest musicians $25,000
- Photography, design and manufacturing (2000 CDs) $5,500
- Flights for Dawud $1,800
So to make both records, the total is about $44,800.
Thanks for Helping To Shine a Bit of Light
The live CD is due out in October, and the studio record in April of next year. If you want to help to create one or both, please join in!
At a point in history when divisions loom large, it is important that we not only stand in the way of actions that separate us, but also that we create those things that bring us together. If you would like to join us in that work, welcome to the community!
Risks and challenges
A note from the band: Life is certainly unpredictable, and surprises could interrupt our scheduled studio time, etc. As of now, though, it looks like we have all the time we need to get these two projects done, with plenty of buffer. For the live album we have a beautiful multi-track recording from a recent concert in Asheville, NC, and we have the time and the songs we need to create the studio album. The only missing piece is the funding. If we can work that bit out, we're golden!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)