PHILADELPHIA - February 8 - GRAMMY-nominated blues musician Robert Cray's newest music video "Twenty" made its world premiere on the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Web site ( http://www.afsc.org ) Jan. 26. This video, which features the AFSC's renowned exhibit Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War, stands as a poignant call for an end to the ongoing war in Iraq. In the video's first ten days online, nearly 30,000 people watched "Twenty" and passed it on to their friends.
Five-time GRAMMY winner, Cray recently received his twelfth GRAMMY nomination for his album "Twenty." Nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album, the album's thought-provoking title track "Twenty" stands as a testimony to Cray's opposition to the ongoing war in Iraq. In this song, Cray laments the lives lost in Iraq with the refrain "When you're used up, where do you go, soldier?"
The "Twenty" music video -- funded and produced by Cray and his wife, Sue Turner-Cray -- features 23-year-old Iraq War veteran Aidan Delgado as an unnamed American soldier. Delgado returns to his hometown in search of a resting place. He eventually finds a field filled with over 2000 pairs of combat boots and looks for the pair that belongs to him. In the exhibit as in the video, each pair of boots represents an American soldier killed in the war in Iraq.
"It's one thing to follow what's happening in Iraq on the evening news; it's another to actually see the empty boots of each and every soldier we've lost there," reflected Robert Cray. "It makes us think about the significance of going to war, what we lose, and whether it's worth it to us."
The video itself is a product of coincidence and collaboration. Though "Twenty" music video Director/Producer, Sue Turner-Cray had not visited Eyes Wide Open, she had heard of the boots and thought that the memorial would be an ideal backdrop for the video. Turner-Cray mentioned this idea to co-producer Renee Ridgeley, only to learn that Ridgeley's good friend had been an AFSC intern and had helped coordinate the original Eyes Wide Open exhibit. Through this connection, Turner-Cray got in touch with the AFSC Chicago office and the collaboration began.
Since January 2004, the Eyes Wide Open exhibit has toured throughout the United States as a living memorial to the human cost of war. This multimedia exhibition of images, words, and sounds from the Iraq war has visited 75 communities in the past two years and continues to garner a tremendous reception from the media and the general public. In an effort to bring this powerful exhibit to a wider audience, AFSC has also created smaller versions of Eyes Wide Open featuring boots representing fallen soldiers from specific states, regions and armed forces such as the National Guard. To date, AFSC has received hundreds of requests to host smaller Eyes Wide Open exhibits in communities across the country. Sadly, the smaller exhibits often prove more feasible as the total number of American soldiers killed grows each day.
Founded by Quakers in 1917 as a response to WWI, AFSC strives to foster peace, justice, and respect for human dignity. AFSC has worked tirelessly to bring an end to military aggression in all parts of the world, with recent focus on the US military involvement in Iraq. AFSC's activism on this issue brings together military families, soldiers, religious organizations, peace groups, and like-minded individuals under one common cause: ending the US military presence in Iraq. In addition to its grassroots efforts, AFSC also fosters peace through available political channels, working with legislators to craft a feasible exit plan for troops now stationed in Iraq. By highlighting the human cost of the Iraq war and building alliances with religious and legislative partners, AFSC ensures that the peace movement will play a crucial role in bringing an end to the military occupation of Iraq.
For more information on American Friends Service Committee and its Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War exhibit, please visit http://www.afsc.org.