From a low-profile start on Washington DC’s underground music scene to international acclaim for their unique hybrid grooves, Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have brought a global sensibility to their work.
For the Thievery Corporation, teaming up with WFP to raise awareness and money for the fight against global hunger seemed a natural turn for a group that describes its musical aesthetic as “Outernational.”
“Hunger is something basic, really elemental, that transcends boundaries around the world,” says Garza, who has visited WFP operational sites in Sudan, Kenya and Nepal. “Conquering it is essential if we are going to make meaningful human progress in health, education and economic development.”
“I think compassion for the hungry is universal … and yet the kind of hunger and poverty I’ve seen on my trips with WFP remains invisible to most people living in the developed world. It is so hard to imagine if you haven’t been there,” he adds.
“Eric and I want to help make people aware. We’re convinced that once they understand more about this kind of suffering, they’ll want to help.”
Thievery’s partnership with WFP launched in early 2005, when the group threw a fundraiser for WFP’s tsunami operations at Washington’s popular 9:30 Club that netted US$30,000. They have since recorded video and audio public service announcements for WFP, and done other fund-raising events.
Most recently, in February 2008, Garza performed at a packed nightclub in Kathmandu, Nepal, to raise money for a women’s mountaineering team that included a former recipient of WFP school feeding. In the summer of 2008, they kick off a year-long Outernational Festival with six US concerts featuring artists from Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.
WFP will be featured in displays during and around the concerts to draw attention to the catastrophic effects of the global food crisis on the Earth’s poor. Thievery will take the tour internationally after the release of their new album in the fall. Starting with their recording debut in 1997, the duo of Hilton and Garza have blended their distinctive hip-hop/fusion sound from an eclectic mix of artists ranging from the dusty LPs of their parents (think Henry Mancini, the Beatles, Herb Albert) to the sultry rhythms of Brazilian bossa nova, Jamaican reggae, India’s Bollywood and the Mideast.
Thievery Corporation’s music has been featured on the Grammy-winning soundtrack of the movie Garden State, and behind other productions including The Sopranos TV series. They have collaborated with high-profile artists including David Byrne, Flaming Lips, Perry Farrell and Norah Jones.
Their newest album includes a track with multiple Grammy-nominee Anoushka Shankar, who is also a celebrity partner with WFP.