AboutJUBILEE is a nonprofit band from Seattle whose motto is “Do what you love to undo what you hate.” They use their microphones, instruments, and all music sales to fight modern slavery. Their project Arts Aftercare brings "beauty and healing through the arts" to survivors of human trafficking at local and international safe homes.
Formed in 2004, JUBILEE's most recent release "To See You Well" (2011) is their third album, self-described as "beachtown folk rock." Slipping happily through, between and around genres, many have remarked that the album could best be personified by a bearded man sitting by the ocean eating a healthy sandwich. The music and artwork pay tribute to the land, people, and cultures of the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii, the band’s milieu.
The origin of their name sheds light on the group's culture and purpose. Coming in from surfing Kaiser Bowls on the south shore of Oahu, then 14-year-old Curtis Romjue saw the name “JUBILEE” on a sailboat sail cover and fell in love with how the word bounced off his tongue - round, fruity and full of celebration. He didn't fully know the meaning, and was fascinated to read of its Biblical origins, derived from the name of the first musician (Jubal - "the father of music" Gen. 4:21) and a once-every-50-years event called the “Year of Jubilee”. This was a year when God - who emphasizes His love for justice throughout the Old Testament - pressed "reset" on society. Land was redistributed to original owners to keep the few from dominating the many. Slaves were set free, debts forgiven, and everyone rested, celebrated (with music!) and gave thanks to God from whom life and all provision flows.
What Curtis read set his imagination on fire. "Why couldn't there be a band who would use their music to celebrate life, and try to live out the spirit of 'Jubilee'?" he thought. "Many bands nobly play the occasional benefit concert, but why couldn't there be a band that was dedicated as a 'nonprofit band?' Musicians committed to addressing the wounds of historical injustices such as colonization, and modern realities such as sex and bonded slave labor?"
Having recently graduated from Seattle Pacific University as a Latin American Studies major (about eight years after seeing that sailboat), Curtis looked online and couldn't find any examples of nonprofit bands (except the billions of involuntarily “nonprofit” bands, of course). In May of 2004, Live Jubilee was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization using music to fight modern slavery. Ever since then, it's been a fun and surprising ride. Check out JUBILEE’s blog for recent adventures.
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