Lots of kids dream of singing in a rock ’n’ roll band. Not many dream of helping other kids in an impoverished country. Thirteen-year-old Raechel Rosen dreamed of both.
Rosen and four male friends formed a band called Creation in 2003 — when all the members were in the fifth grade. Creation performs original upbeat pop songs with sweetly sincere lyrics. Rosen is the lead vocalist and also plays guitar; her band mates cover bass, keyboards, percussion and lead guitar.
In accordance with the custom at her synagogue, Or Zarua on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Rosen made a commitment to donate to charity a percentage of the money she received for her bat mitzvah in January 2005. Using her commitment as a springboard, Rosen jumped at the chance to maximize her band’s philanthropic potential.
“I wanted to do something bigger,” Rosen said. And indeed, she did.
Her band mates, who all celebrated their bar mitzvahs in 2005, eagerly got on board. Between the bar and bat mitzvah loot, fundraising concerts and CD and T-shirt sales, Creation raised enough money to build a school in Mali, a poverty-stricken West African country.
Creation worked with the We Are Family Foundation — a not-for-profit organization formed in 2002 that promotes diversity, cultural understanding and the possibility of global family — to build the school and to send 10 students from inner-city American schools to Africa to help build it. In April 2005, Creation performed at the WAFF’s gala at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, where Rosen spoke to a crowd of 700 adults about her band’s work.
“Our mission is to help create a more peaceful world for the future, and to educate kids about multiculturalism, tolerance and peace,” Rosen said.
Creation released its first CD, “World Without Windows,” last December, and celebrated with a CD release party and benefit concert at the famous B.B. King’s Blues Club in Manhattan. The group is donating all gross proceeds from the sale of their debut album to the foundation.
To date, Creation has donated some $55,000 to charitable organizations; in addition to the foundation, Creation has worked with Building with Books and U.S. Doctors for Africa, among other groups.
And the band’s efforts continue. In September, they performed at the United Nations student observance of the International Day of Peace, after Secretary General Kofi Annan rang the Peace Bell. And the teenagers were also invited to be participants in this year’s Clinton Global Initiative. To participate in the event, Creation has made a commitment to raise $250,000 for the We Are Family Foundation’s Just Peace 2007 Summit. The summit brings together 50 teens from countries around the globe to discuss conflict resolution, and to provide them with tools and information to work toward world peace.
“I love working with a charity and being involved with their cause,” Rosen said. But underneath it all, it’s still about the music. Rosen cites Bruce Springsteen in particular as one of her major musical influences: “I love his music and the songs have a message.”
Springsteen is also known for his philanthropic efforts and has played charity concerts for a number of causes and organizations, including the American Red Cross. And there are only two degrees of separation between Rosen and the Boss: Clarence Clemons, the famed saxophonist who plays with Springsteen’s E Street Band, performs on one of the songs on Creation’s album.
This story "Rockers Make Dreams a Reality — For Kids in America and in Africa" was written by Sarah Kricheff.