These days Shehzad Roy is in Hollywood, L.A., where he just collaborated with ex-Guns‘n’Roses member Matt Sorum’s charity organisation, Adopt the Arts, to hold a fundraiser for American schoolchildren who have been deprived of their arts budget.
The concert took place on Sept 15 at the Ray Dolby Ballroom of the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles (also the venue of the post-Oscars Governor’s Ball). The musicians featured besides Matt Sorum and Shehzad Roy, Gilby Clarke, Macy Gray and Slash.
Speaking to Images on Sunday immediately after the event, Roy said, “Every year, we organise a fundraiser for Zindagi Trust in the US courtesy Sadia Arshad, a writer/activist working in Hollywood who wants to bridge cultures through music and art, and who conceived and organised this event as well. I have already worked with Bryan Adams, and she also discussed my music and Zindagi Trust with Matt Sorum who decided to hold a joint charity gala. Slash was also taken on board.”
The event commenced with Matt Sorum and Shehzad Roy’s speeches. “The idea tonight is to bring people together through music … and it always works,” said Sorum. “Since our inception a little over two years ago, we have brought music and art to over 30 schools by donating 1,000 instruments as well as art programmes teaching humanity, world awareness and culture. I’m very honoured to be partnering on this event with my new friend from Pakistan, Shehzad Roy. (He’s) a great humanitarian and an incredible musician.” Sorum also donated 50 instruments to the school for the children’s choir that sang at the event.
Shehzad Roy sketched the education system of Pakistan. He said he is doing his best to reform the education structure on a grass-roots level. “We (Roy and Sorum) believe in music as a universal language of peace and we have both dedicated our lives to helping disadvantaged children through it,” he said.
Other celebrities present included Gilby Clarke from Guns‘n’Roses, Macy Gray, Danny Masterson, Shane Duffy and the NBA-ABC star Jay Harrington, Travis Van Winkle, Iqbal Theba, James Kyson Lee and Pooja Batra.
Matt Sorum performed a couple of songs from his new album such as The Sea and The Lady of Stone. However, the highlight of his performance was A Land of Pure dedicated to Pakistan and where Roy also joined him on stage. Roy performed his set which included Kangna (Jane Lynch was treated to a romantic serenade) and he even dedicated a line to her: “Tera pyar se sharmana kardega mujhe pagal … goray rang ki baat hi kuch aur” (Lynch went on to tweet about this gesture on her page). Apnay Ullo, Saali and a rocking medley of Chaap Tilak, Allah Hu, Bibi Shirinay and Lal Meri made up the rest of his performance.
Later, Macy Gray performed Brass in Pocket, Arcade Fire and Creep. She then invited Slash on stage and they jammed together. The event reached its climax when, Roy, Slash, Sorum and Gray did covers of The Beatles’ Come Together and Radiohead’s Creep. Shehzad Roy was dubbed as the ‘Bono’ of Pakistan by Sorum, while Slash said he was enthralled by his performance.
Celebrities who auctioned items included Jane Lynch (track suit from Glee), autographed Guns‘n’Roses drumhead, Slash’s guitar, Metallica’s guitar, Aerosmith’s drumhead and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s autographed poster of Mr & Mrs Smith. The organiser estimated that the gala raised close to $260,000 for the charity.
“The event definitely portrayed a positive image of Pakistan,” Roy said during the telephone conversation. “They were all dancing and no doubt thinking that music is so widely accepted in Pakistan that even a musician like me can work for reforms in the education sector.”
Regarding the experience, he said it was “out of this world.” Roy added that performing at Hollywood was awesome, and portraying a positive image of Pakistan is “an honour in itself.” When asked if he has any plans to collaborate, he said, “I’ve discovered opportunities which hopefully should materialise soon. There are collaborations planned for next year, after a surprise project which will be launched by the end of this year.” Can hardly wait!