CAS sophomore Johnathan Chen knows music can be an important outlet for social change. He used the inspirational power of music as the foundation for OneReasonRecordings, the nonprofit organization he created during his freshman year.
ORR aims to raise funds for social justice issues around the world using music. The organization focuses on a different issue each year and invites musicians from around the country to write and record songs about the problem. Chen and ORR then compile the tracks into an album. The group donates all proceeds to a charity of its choice.
Chen believes music is a great way to involve students in his endeavor.
“Wherever you go, you see people with headphones on … plugged into themselves and listening to music,” Chen said. “I just thought, music is such a universal thing, so why not use it for something positive?”
Chen and his team are currently focusing on helping the homeless. In early 2013, they launched the Homes Campaign to raise funds to build a house for a family in need while also providing food, a steady source of income and other necessities including clothing and books.
“We seek to raise $3,713 to provide a family in need with a new, safe and secure house with sanitation, rice and beans for one full year,” said CAS sophomore Catherine Ye, who serves as ORR’s director of public relations.
ORR previously partnered with another nonprofit called charity: water, during the group’s 2011-2012 water campaign to help those without access to clean drinking water. ORR created the album “Collecting Droplets” and raised a total of $5,000. ORR also contributed to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort last October.
“The idea of using music as a means with which to change the world really appealed to me, as music is one my greatest passions,” Ye said. “The theme is easily applied universally, as well as among individuals in a community.”
Many of the artists who contribute are relatively unknown. Chen is determined to give them a new outlet for their music and help them associate with a positive image.
Ray Low, an NYU-Poly senior who contributed a song to “Collecting Droplets,” says he has known Chen for years and is very supportive of ORR’s work.
“Though I am not as involved, I am very much enthusiastic about the mission of the organization and am planning to submit more music in the future,” Low said.
OneReasonRecordings is still accepting submissions for its current Homes album, which is slated to be released later this year. For more information, visit the organization’s Facebook page and its weekly YouTube series, “ORRiginal Saturdays,” hosted by Steinhardt sophomore Heidi Seo, OneReasonRecordings’ director of public outreach.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 11 print edition. Jonathan Keshishoglou is a deputy features editor. Email him at [email protected]