Alvin Harrison ~ The 99

Alvin Harrison

Alvin Harrison

Through The 99 project, Alvin Harrison puts words, music and visuals to the feelings that 99% of Americans feel about the problems we’re facing today both inside the United States and worldwide. Songwriter Alvin Harrison, hasn’t always been politically active, but he became politically active when he heard about the government shut down last fall: “I saw on the news that Congressmen were going to shut down the government, because they couldn’t agree on the budget. No one was going to get paid, except the Congressmen. I wrote a song called Rough Times in America, and the project got started from there.”

Alvin Harrison describes his old self: “I think I was like everyone else. If you’re not alerted to what’s going on, you’re just involved with your day-to-day life. You don’t think about it. When people start thinking about things, people will change the way they deal with their government and voting.”

To Alvin Harrison, The 99 project is a social movement as well as a musical movement. He wants to expand the movement to be worldwide: “There are similar problems around the world. I want to have the same songs recorded in different languages. Maybe musicians from around the world can send me stuff that’s relevant to their countries. We’re all part of The 99, everybody in the world, except the 1%.”

To further reinforce the point of The 99, Alvin Harrison decided to use “regular people from around the world who are musicians” rather than use famous musicians to record his music. He knew that he did not want to form a band, so he contacted musicians from around the country.

When he recorded Rough Times in America, Alvin Harrison began by recording most of the music in his home studio, and then he sent it to a studio in Los Angeles. The studio in Los Angeles recorded the background vocals. After that, Alvin sent the song to a singer in Charlotte, NC, who recorded vocals there. Then, Alvin mastered and mixed the final tracks.

Alvin Harrison guitarsWithin two hours of posting Rough Times in America on the internet, Alvin Harrison was contacted by Jay King, internet radio show host, musician and co-founder of Club Nouveau. Jay helped Alvin spread the message worldwide. Since then, Alvin has enlisted Jay’s help on all The 99’s music projects and has found his advice invaluable.

I asked Alvin Harrison the goals behind The 99 project. Does he want to raise awareness? Raise money? Encourage others to take action? His answer: “Probably all 3, with the least important one being to raise money. As far as I’m concerned, the corporate and the 1% takeover of our democracy is our biggest problem. I want to disseminate information through our Facebook page and through our songs, to make people aware, so they can start thinking about things and so we can get some changes made. All artist revenues will be given to a charity.”

The 99 started as an American project. Then, Alvin Harrison started expanding the idea: “The internet is such a wonderful tool. We have a meeting place that’s instant and accessible to everyone in the world.

The 99 has become involved with a project in England called Children Screaming To Be Heard. Alvin Harrison is working with people on that project to produce a song that increases awareness about child slavery. “It’s neat because I can work with people in different countries about problems in their country specifically and also problems that are common to all of us.”

Alvin Harrison creates the videos for The 99 songs: “All of the clips for the videos come from YouTube. In the song Do You Wanna Go, I used footage from copyrighted films. I added a disclaimer to my videos, then contacted people and told them ‘I need to use your stuff; I’m not making any money off it, but I’m going to help further your cause.’ Everyone told me OK, no problem.”

You don’t see the musicians in The 99 videos, mainly because they are spread out across the country. Alvin Harrison believes it’s the message that important, not the messengers.

So how does Alvin Harrison use social media to spread the word? He posts the videos on YouTube, he posts interesting and informative articles on Facebook and he’s active on Twitter: “I’ll post something on Facebook concerning a problem. Then, I’ll put a provocative tweet out there that says go to the Facebook page. Since I’ve started doing that, I’ve gained thousands of likes and followers.”

To date, The 99 have recorded three songs: Rough Times in America, We Ain’t Buying and Do You Wanna Go. All three singles are available on The 99 YouTube channel. Go watch, learn and become involved. As Alvin Harrison explains, “There’s no one funding this project but me, so I will gladly accept any help that I can get from anyone. These corporations and the 1%, they meet all the time. We need to meet and this is our meeting place: the internet. I need musicians, songwriters and media people.”

To quote Alvin Harrison: “Now is the time to start hammering the message and get some changes made in the United States and the community of the world. We have to start somewhere, so I’m starting from the ground up.”

The Amused Now Featured Artist Series

The 99 handsAlvin Harrison, The 99

Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now