Peace Date – The Making

The Back Story

Experiential travel and writing retreat. That’s what I call it. A month away, somewhere in the world, where I can learn about a new culture, engage with locals, and write to my heart’s content. I selected Cape Town, SA rather intuitively. It wasn’t on the top of my travel bucket list, though over the years, the country has been on my radar. Apartheid first came to my attention back in the eighties with movies like “Cry Freedom” and the name Nelson Mandela so often being mentioned in the news. Years later I read “Long Walk To Freedom“, Mandela’s autobiography, and was captivated by his peaceful resistance and inspired leadership throughout the great struggle of South Africa. The fact is, their struggle is our struggle. Maybe I was drawn to travel there because of our common humanity, and my innate belief that we are all one.
After some research, the metaphorical dart hit Observatory, a suburb affectionately known as Obs, situated on the north-facing lower slopes of Devil’s Peak. The University of Cape Town is nearby, as well as the South African Astronomical Observatory, making this quite a hip place to hang out. I found the perfect home to share on AirBnB; Kali and her daughter Sienna were fabulous hosts. They had a guitar for me to borrow, and after restringing it, the muse took care of the rest.

One Saturday evening, Kali spontaneously hosted a house concert for me, and Nur Felix was one of our guests. We hit it off immediately and agreed to meet on Monday to write together. That’s when “Peace Date” was born. The inspiration for the song came from a conversation I had with a street vendor in Obs a few days earlier. As I approached, I could see him dancing and singing, smiling from ear to ear. I held out my hand to shake his, but we ended up embracing instead. This beautiful, black man, pointed to the sky and simply said, “We are light in the darkness“. Of course those words were familiar to me, and in fact wrote the song “Light of the World” way back in ’78. But this day, in this town, in this country, with the state of chaos in the world, the words had a completely different meaning. Thankfully, Nur and I were on the same page, and able to write a song with a message the world desperately wants to hear.

Garageband on my iPad, a Tascam interface, condenser mic and cables were all in my suitcase. This little recording rig is what I used to capture all the tracks. The recording environments were noisier than I would have liked, but we still got the job done. Nur and I each recorded guitar tracks and our vocals. We knew a choir would be the icing on the cake, so we called a few friends over to Kali’s one evening to sing the chorus. One of those friends was my housemate for two weeks, Etienne, a visitor from Belgium, a fun-loving joker who became a traveling companion during my time there. They did a great job, but it still needed more. It needed children’s voices.
The next challenge was to find a Township school willing to let us visit and work with their students. Nur suggested Manenberg Primary School in Manenberg on the Western Cape. It is a ‘coloured’ community. The townships were divided by race – black or coloured – non-whites who don’t fit the black profile. They make up about 10% of the population in South Africa, ancestors of slaves mostly from India and Indonesia. The school’s principle was delighted to have us come and gave us all the time we needed with the kids. These youngsters were so enthusiastic and wonderfully talented. After we finished recording, they insisted on putting on their own talent show for us! It was an ace day.

The following day, I left Cape Town for Johannesburg, and an eight-hour drive north to Kruger National Park to see the wildlife. Absolutely incredible to experience elephants, lions, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, and so many other animals in their natural habitat. One of my safari guides told me he loved music and loved to sing. Along with recording one of his original hymns, Elias Smily became another voice on the Peace Date recording. He had never before heard his voice recorded. The joy in this man’s eyes I will never forget.

 

Home to my recording studio to complete editing and mixing our tracks. My talented friend Scott Rossley added a bass guitar track which really helped complete the song. While I was finishing the mix, Nur was editing all the video we had collected. What you see and hear now is the fruit of our labour. This is our song, it is your song. In a world on the cusp of violence, let’s chose today, and every day, to make a “Peace Date“.

Nancy

p.s. A note about Nur Felix. He is an extraordinary young, talented man. His music needs to be heard. Moonlit Pond Records has signed up to support his efforts, and we hope you’ll help out too. He is about $1000 short to finish recording his CD. North American money goes a long, long way in South Africa. It will probably take him another five or ten years to come up with this kind of money. Please donate to the cause if you can. Even $10.00 will help. And not only will you receive a Peace Date download, you’ll get a digital copy of the CD when it’s finished.






 
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