18 Jul 14
“This persecution can’t go on
Innocent lives have been lost
These beautiful people they’ve suffered so long
Tortured for practicing Falun Gong
It’s time for the world, it’s time for the world to stand up
Come now my friend
The time has come to walk into the sun
Let’s be the voice, let’s be the voice of the future”
The title song “Be the Voice” by Belle expresses the mission of Truth On Tour: Artists Against the Persecution of Falun Gong, and the inspiration behind the artists involved. Coming from different genres, styles and backgrounds, they share a common goal: use their music for a higher purpose, and be the voice for Falun Gong practitioners persecuted in China.
The album Truth On Tour [Volume 1] represents this mission, and is scheduled for release July 15.
The idea to speak out for persecuted practitioners is shared among the artists, and for executive director of Truth On Tour Jim Fogarty, it formed over five years ago, in 2008.
Fogarty was involved with the 2008 Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR), a torch bearing that mirrored the Olympic torch run to Beijing, but focused instead on human rights atrocities in China.
When he found out the torch would be traveling through Denver, Colorado, he had the idea of putting together a concert. The generosity of Colorado musicians in contributing their time and talent had a profound effect. “They didn’t even know me, but were happy to contribute their time and talent to raise awareness of human rights atrocities in China, and asked nothing in return. I was deeply moved by the selflessness of it, and thought ‘That’s what it’s all about’.
“I saw what could happen when musicians come together for a worthy cause. I knew after that day that I wanted to use my music to end this persecution, and share with people through my songs who I am as a [Falun Gong] practitioner,” says Fogarty. Inspired by this, he wrote the song A Heart Divine, and performed alongside HRTR artists under the name Leadville Jim.
Afterwards, Fogarty attempted to bring other Falun Gong practitioner artists together in 2010. “There were talented musicians individually writing and performing songs to bring attention to the persecution, but most were busy with other commitments as well,” he said. “The music was like a sidebar. I don’t think we quite understood its role, or how to do it together. It wasn’t there yet, or the timing wasn’t right. But the environment has changed.”
Several years went by before Jim came across Truth On Tour, a collective of like-minded artists concerned about the persecution who were putting together a compilation album. Fogarty joined and contributed his song A Heart Divine.
The musicians of Truth On Tour then performed their first concert in Long Beach, California, last October. In the afterglow of that concert, things shifted.
“That was a great experience, and we came away from it understanding the important role Truth On Tour and our music could play, and what we could achieve together. We experienced it firsthand,” Fogarty said, adding they also received encouragement from other Falun Gong practitioners.
Lifted by the experience, he saw changes occur within the project. The group reached consensus on its main purpose and embraced it upfront in the tag line: Artists against the Persecution of Falun Gong.
The experience also prompted Truth On Tour to register in California as a non-profit organization, and serve its mission of raising awareness of the persecution with more focus and dedication. During this formation, Fogarty became the executive director.
In doing all this, the contributing artists are no longer working alone. They have formed a strong voice and invite others to join the voice until the persecution is over. For Fogarty, he is happy to find harmony between his passion for music and commitment to spiritual practice.