world peace through music
World peace? You might think it will never happen. But you will never convince Nassiri of that.
Fred Nassiri, who goes by his last name as a singer and songwriter, has just released a DVD that might be the most spectacular -- and expensive -- music video ever produced. It shows Nassiri's "Love Sees No Color" sung by hundreds of brightly dressed children in 15 different languages, in segments filmed by 18 different directors.
Segments take place all over the world: at the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, the Sphinx and Pyramids of Egypt, the Holocaust Memorial and Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Roman Coliseum, in Australia, and at Unification Park in South Korea. They include the first filmings ever allowed on the historical grounds of the Taj Mahal, within the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and inside the Vatican.
"The DVD took five years of planning, beginning in 2002," said Nassiri in a recent telephone interview. "We picked the three top directors in each country. Each director decided how the children would be presented in accordance with the customs of that country."
"While the staff was sleeping on the plane, I was learning the language of the country we were going to," he said. He and his crew were exposed to crossfire between Israel and Palestine at times. Nassiri has 900 hours of film from the project, which might be used in the future for a documentary.
Considering the spectacular results of this seemingly impossible project, Nassiri's hopes to spread a message of peace seem much more realistic. "We need a good message more than ever," he said, "a positive message to the world. We need more peace, harmony and unity."
"Some countries use 50 percent of their budget for the military," he said. He is asking for a 10 percent reduction in the military spending of all countries. "We spend billions just to maintain unused weapons. We are scared of our own shadows. We need to be free to travel, in a kinder, gentler world. It is vitally important that we don't have war in the future."
"Too many children live in poverty and die from hunger. A child is a victim of circumstance. He is not born with a gun in his hand. He needs a family, a job, something to hold on to. Why would you want to be out in the street? We are all of the same species. None of us are from a different planet," he said.
Love Sees No Color is also the name of the CD that is combined with the DVD as a "World Peace Collection." It has 12 songs, including the title track, and a bonus track that is a mix for the DVD. The music might be classified as new age. It certainly has no rough edges, with an expertly produced mixture of synthesized keyboards and instruments including sax, cello, oud and bouzouki.
Nassiri sings heartfelt messages of love both romantic and spiritual, and philosophical musings as in "Yesterday's Gone." "Look in your heart and you will find / Rainy days are behind / There's no way to turn back time / To the horizon look for sunshine...."
"I write simple songs, songs you can relate to," he said "Something an innocent child can sing to his mother. Children are pure and innocent. It is important to deliver a pure message."
Nassiri, born in Iran, came to the U.S. as a child. From owning a beauty salon and a wholesale wig business in California, he moved to Las Vegas, opened a fashion store and became a nationwide wholesale fashion distributor and real estate investor.
He came to a point in life where he no longer strove for financial success, although his drive seems as strong as ever. He said he is currently working on nine different recording projects, including classical, dance, holiday and instrumental CDs, and two spoken-word albums in Farsi.
"I don't write two songs alike," he said. "I have a different arranger for each song. I might take three arrangers, and the fourth one arranges the song the way I like it."
"I produce my own stuff. I am very particular about what sound I put out. If one word is wrong, I might redo the whole thing."
Nassiri, who has been writing songs for 11 years, is also planning a contest by his record label Nassiri Music for the best interpretations of his songs by other artists.
In 2006, Nassiri introduced an ethnic diversity curriculum at Lee Antonello Elementary School in Las Vegas. The program uses the messages of Nassiri's music as an educational tool. The ethnically diverse school "used to have a lot of fights," said Nassiri. "The program has helped the kids to have higher test scores."
"Music can affect every fiber of our being," said Nassiri. "Its vibrations are a great healing process." Nassiri might sound a bit idealistic. But this is a man who has met with world leaders including Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela to put his ideals and visions into practice. The more you learn about Nassiri, the more you begin to believe that anything is possible.
1 November 2008