Open hearts lead to open minds. This is the founding principle of The Nile Project, a collective of musicians from the Nile River basin whose music inspires Nile citizens to work together for the sustainability of their river. by Kristen Brogdon
I first met The Nile Project’s founder and CEO Mina Girgis at a meeting of North Carolina arts leaders in the summer of 2015. My colleagues and I were intrigued by the intricate beauty of The Nile Project’s music, the learning opportunities for university communities, and the similarities between the Nile and the network of rivers that runs through North Carolina. Since that summer we’ve assembled an NC tour that spans six cities and will bring The Nile Project to our state for a month in 2017; the artists will be in residence at UNCW March 25-29, 2017, thanks in part to a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.
The Nile Project musicians are a tightknit performing ensemble. Their music weaves sounds from all 11 countries along the path of the Nile. Vocalists, percussionists and string players write songs collaboratively, converging for two weeks at a time to prepare for concerts in their own countries, as well as the U.S. and Europe. Their creative process is based on shared leadership, with each member of the ensemble writing songs while supporting other members’ musical explorations. The group’s creative process was designed as a model for cross-boundary water collaboration. These musicians make brilliant music together despite their differences in language, instruments, melodic and harmonic structure, and rhythmic patterns. The only thing they all have in common is the Nile. Our expectation is that if these disparate artists can make music together, politicians and diplomats can surely come together to address the Nile’s water conflict.