Walk A Mile
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Walk A Mile

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“Of course we aren’t lacking in compassion, there are many pockets of it around and people are not so threatened to show they care for another these days,” she says.

“But compassion can still be a dirty word to many. What is compassion made up of? Forgiveness, acceptance, to put ourselves in another’s shoes. We don’t have to look too far to discover this isn’t the norm. Look at our work culture, look at our leaders in politics, where are the role models?” she points out. “Gosh, read the papers, listen to the news, listen to people criticising one another, putting one another down. Is there room for more
compassion? I think so.”

And who better that understands compassion than guest, performer and Tibetan artist Jigme Namgyal, who escaped Tibet as a young boy and now uses his music to bring awareness to the Tibetan issue while keeping the motherland’s culture and history alive.

“I’ve known Jigme Namgyal for over four years,” explains Whitlocke. “I saw him perform in a Buddhist conference and went to buy his CD; when I saw the CD design I said I could do a better one for him. Our friendship started from there.

“I met Heather Frahn through Jigme,” she continues, “and was impressed by her voce, content and ethics. At the same time, Heather Frahn is an international artist who doesn’t tread on eggshells to get her message across, her voice is powerful and her musical skills are amazing, she is very professional.”

Singer-songwriter Frahn adds that she too has been a big fan of Namgyal and jumped at the chance to support an event with such a terrific cause. For the singer, it’s the celebration of compassion, and perhaps more importantly, promoting ‘conscious choice’ that proved the most attractive about the event.

“We’re seeing more and more artists reflecting on what’s going on in their world, so for me, a part of my creative motivation is to be a part of that change that I want to see in the world ultimately,” Frahn states.

“There is actually a new genre of music growing around the world, it’s called the ‘conscious music movement’. This concert is in a way a reflection of that. I just feel that deep down in their hearts, people are good and want to do great things and help – particularly musicians.”

Frahn is certainly one of them and claims that if the recent Adelaide leg of the concert was anything to go by, Walk A Mile just may be back for another year.

“We just did a sister concert in Adelaide and it sold out; it was absolutely wonderful!” Frahn enthuses. “It was in a smaller, more intimate venue with about a hundred people; it was very home-ly, but we were still taking calls from people interested in coming!

“The money that we raised went to charities like Swags For Homeless in Melbourne and With Compassion And Soul, which is an animal rights charity. I’m sure the Melbourne concert will have the same kind of vibe, though in Melbourne we have a special guest with Tibetan monk Gen Thupten Khedup. The Melbourne festival will be more like a world music roots festival.”

Whitlocke adds that after 35 years in the Tibetan monastery, Gen Thupten Khedup is not only an artist but also the spiritual architect of the Dalai Lama.

“Gen Khedup will be doing his throat chanting,” says Whitlocke. “After 35 years in Tibet he came to Australia and he’s a master artist in sand mandala and butter sculpting. I’ve known Gen Khedup for three years now and he teaches sand mandala at interfaith festivals that I’ve helped organize; he’s a personal friend,” she explains happily.

“This is not a religious festival at all,” Whitlocke points out, “but I have also been a practicing Buddhist for 20 years and am a member of the Jamchen Buddhist Centre. I believe that we can be better people to ourselves and each other.”

That’s something we can all appreciate.