Todd Mack

March 26, 2024

Todd Mack

March 26, 2024

“I think most people would agree that there is a greatness to the United States. 

Some might say, “Well, it’s how it used to be,” and some might say, “Well, actually, it’s what we can be.” Maybe what we need to focus on is what are the things that make us great or can make us greater, and that starts with working together with our communities.

I have three life-defining moments that revolve around music.

The first was Woodstock in 1969. Even at that young age of five, I could sense that there was some sort of power in music. What was it that was bringing all these people together?

The second life-defining moment hit while I was in high school. As an avid Beatles fan, John Lennon’s murder really shook me. I hopped on a train and got down to Central Park for the vigil in his honor.

Radio stations across the world had organized this minute of silence to commemorate his life. I can vividly remember my buddy and I sitting in Central Park among two to three hundred thousand people, and it just went completely quiet.

The other thing I remember so clearly is just how upset people were but also how music had this incredible healing power, of bringing people together and providing some kind of catharsis in the moment.

The third life-defining moment happened about 22 years later when my friend Daniel Pearl was murdered. 

Danny was a journalist and believed he had a huge scoop on Al-Qaeda. He was abducted and killed for it.

But Danny was a very talented musician

So I started a thing called F.O.D. Fest, or Friends of Danny Festival, which took place in my backyard.

It was a gathering of only like 40 or 50 people. There were about a dozen or so musicians, and it was kind of this informal song swap/concert/jam session thing.

And what really struck me about it was the very sort of same feeling of healing and catharsis that I witnessed in Central Park with John Lennon’s vigil was present that day.

When I look back at those the first two experiences, it sort of all galvanized after Danny’s murder and was a call to action for me.

So I started a nonprofit, Music in Common, and over time we created a model that brings people from different backgrounds together through music and songwriting and facilitated discussion as a way to understand one another’s backgrounds, cultural, political, whatever it may be, and understand that despite the differences, there’s common ground.

It’s about relearning that we’re all interdependent.

You put 16 high school kids in a room together and tell them they have to write one song as a group. It really helps people not only collaborate and work together and figure out how to work together, but actually, we’ve seen it break down stereotypes and preconceptions about the other group of people.

It’s like working for a company. If you don’t do your job, you let three, four, however many other people down, right?

You’re part of the larger organization, a larger organism, and if you don’t do your part, the job doesn’t get done.

You look at where we are today, so focused on divisiveness and what separates us, while we really need to be focusing on what we have in common, what our shared beliefs, what our shared duties to each other are.” 

Todd Mack
Atlanta, GA

Todd has made a 35-year career as a musician, songwriter, and producer based upon his unwavering belief in the power of music to change the world. His organization, Music in Common, empowers diverse cultures and faiths to discover common ground through collaborative songwriting, multimedia, and performance.