This Thursday is World Water Day, and McKay Stevens, a Ph.D. student at BYU and frontman for Provo band The Vibrant Sound, is using his music to raise money and awareness for clean water projects for children in Third World countries.
The Vibrant Sound, which recently recorded a short EP before heading on tour with the alternative hip-hop duo The Knux, are making a stop in Salt Lake City Thursday night to play a benefit concert for UNICEF’s Tap Project. Stevens said the band has been touring as a trio, and their stripped-down sound dovetails well with the new EP.
“This EP is more organic and there aren’t any drums,” Stevens said. “We had recorded videos of live versions of these songs and people had been asking when we would release them, so we recorded them this way to get something out for this tour.”
Although he’s been heavily involved with music for some time — he co-founded Northplatte Records with Joshua James in 2006 — Stevens has made an impact in recent years with a string of singles to benefit various charities, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and UNICEF. It was actually a connection made at BYU that got him started working with UNICEF.
“Two or three years ago there was a kid at the BYU ad lab who was a fan of my music,” Stevens said. “They were working on a UNICEF project and he asked if I would do the music for it.”
Stevens originally wrote the song, “Raise Your Glasses” and licensed it for commercial use by the organization. Now, the band is selling it with all the proceeds going to UNICEF and their Tap Project.
“UNICEF’s Tap Project is huge,” Stevens said. “They raise awareness and money by getting restaurants to urge their patrons to donate a dollar every time they drink water. The money helps clean water in various Third World areas.”
Alexander Au, president of the Salt Lake City Chapter of UNICEF, explained the Tap Project more thoroughly.
“It focuses on clean water issues,” Au said. “Every dollar donated equals 40 days of clean water for children in Third World countries. Our chapter [of UNICEF] has partnered with the George Harrison Foundation, which will match every dollar we raise, so every dollar we get will equal 80 days of clean water.”
According to the Tap Project website, this year’s donations will target clean water activities in Cameroon, Togo, Vietnam and Mauritania.
UNICEF was established after World War II to provide aid for children in war-ravaged countries. Today, it’s a worldwide organization that, as Au said, does whatever it takes to save a child’s life.
“More than 21,000 children die every day from preventable causes,” Au said. “When I first joined in 2009, it was 26,000. It’s encouraging for members to see that change. We are pushing for that number to eventually get down to zero.”
Part of the organization’s efforts include hosting fundraising and awareness events such as the Miles for Water 5K Race and the World Water Day benefit concert. Au said these kinds of events are a good way to engage the public.
“It’s really exciting how McKay and The Vibrant Sound have reached out,” Au said. “Having this concert is an ideal platform to get people involved with international and local charities.”
More information about the local UNICEF chapter, including a link to buy an MP3 of “Raise Your Glasses,” can be found at unicefred.org. Tickets for Thursday’s benefit concert can be purchased at thekollective.com.