DAKAR – Peter Cole is using his voice and power where it matters most; in a new song, Don’t Stay Home; Go Vote, released this week, the Liberian musical sensation, a prodigy of the great Yousouf Ndour, based in Dakar, Senegal uses his power and soulful voice to speak truth to power while admonishing Liberians not to waste their votes.
By Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
Says Peter: “I saw a lot of songs being created for and by different political parties by different artists. I know there is some tension caused by political exchanges. I therefore decided to do a song that let’s Liberians remember our goal, which is after six years of this CDC-led government, we need change.”
According to the National Elections Commission, only 2,471,617(two million, four hundred, seventy-one thousand, six hundred and seventeen) Liberians will participate in the October 10 presidential and legislative elections, representing one Million Two Hundred Thirty-seven Thousand Two Hundred Fifty-seven (1,237,257) Females and One Million Two Hundred Thirty-four Thousand Three Hundred Sixty (1,234,360) Males.”
As an artist, Peter says he could not sit back and not voice his contribution to such an important chapter in the history of his homeland. “Artists are peacemakers, and we can prevail upon our fans and supporters to be peaceful during these elections. Even in our families, we don’t support the same political candidates. But I’m sure no brother will attack his brother or sister because they’re on different political sides. So, what you can’t do at home, don’t do it in public. So, artists must share the message of peace despite our political diversities.”
Peter explains that the song’s title comes from his thoughts that some voters could stay home because of the tension that campaigning and debates cause. “I want them to know if they do that, it will be to the detriment of our beloved country.”
Asked what he hopes voters take away from the song. “I want listeners to take from this song is to go out massively and vote on election days. I know there will be a second round of presidential elections. I also want them to change the current administration. It is easy to see the failings of this administration. We need a new direction as a country.”
Peter’s latest is a new direction for the artist known for pensive love songs and soaring themed messages. “It’s a new direction but these elections are crucial and there’s no time for sitting on the fence. Everyone must play their part and choose their side. I am for a change. I have released a couple of singles in recent years. I was on a kind of sabbatical but I’m always into music. But I’m back and always strong.”
The artist, musician, and composer survived several migrations due to civil conflicts in Liberia and the Ivory Coast before settled in Dakar. From Gbarnga to Monrovia, the Ivory Coast and Senegal, he is most recognized by his favorite instrument: the guitar. But his performance skills also include piano, singing, and arrangement.
Peter’s care for social issues like children’s rights, gender-based violence, and public health has always been connected to his musicianship. He is a founding member of the Bosco Beat Band. The band provided entertainment in the Monrovia enclave during the Liberian civil war. As well as entertainment, the band also raised awareness about the plight of street children. They were easily manipulated into child soldiers during the civil war. Some of them were trained to play musical instruments through the help of UNICEF and Don Bosco Homes.
During the making of a documentary for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter met the renowned artist, Youssou Ndour of Senegal. The documentary was to demand greater respect for civilians during armed conflicts. When Peter fled to the Ivory Coast to escape more fighting in Liberia, Youssou Ndour invited him to Senegal and produced his second album “Stay Alive”. Because of looting during the civil war in Liberia, Peter has no copy of his first album, “Be Awake”.
When socio-political unrest started in the Ivory Coast, Peter moved finally to Senegal. He has long been an integral part of the Prince Arts Studio in Dakar.
Alongside UNMIL, Peter used his music to speak against and educate about rape and gender-based violence. With UNICEF and other Organizations, he created awareness about polio and malaria in Liberia. He was a part of the UNHCR sponsored “Refugee Voices – Building Bridges” project. With other refugee artists, funds were raised for refugees’ education.
“Rebirth” and “Nerfertitus” are Peter’s third and fourth albums. He is currently working on a fifth album. He performs several times every week in Dakar.
Peter is also a vocal coach, artistic director, and judge of Prince Arts’s Sen Petit Gallé television show. The show brings together contestants from Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania, aged ten to sixteen years.