Glocal Musician Educators are a group that creates music influenced by global themes in communities throughout North America, the Caribbean, and beyond. Through their intentional diversity—including representation from many countries, denominations, and several cultures—the group embodies ways to stand in mutual solidarity while amplifying marginalized voices.
Glocal Musician Educators are committed to forming local leaders seeking to introduce global themes in their communities. The songs they teach are grounded in the community stories that raise awareness and inspire advocacy. The musicians embody what it means to be Glocal—simultaneously global and local—so we can accompany one another across cultures, even in our own neighborhoods. This episode includes three Glocal musicians: Omar Mixco; Mercy Zou Taithul; and Grace Koch Muchahary.
To learn more about Holden Village, visit: http://www.holdenvillage.org or to listen to more audio recordings visit: http://audio.holdenvillage.org. The Holden Village Podcast is accessible through Apple iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeart Radio, and most podcast apps. For questions and inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background music by Lesfm: Please Calm my Mind.
[00:00:00] Intro: Welcome to the Holden Village Podcast. Holden is a community of education, programming, and worship located in the remote wilderness of the Cascade Mountains. These snapshots provide a glimpse into the learnings taking place in our community. Let's tune in to this week's highlight.
[00:00:22] Dev: Welcome to another episode of the Holden Village Podcast. I am your host Dev. He/him pronouns and I am with the glocal community.
[00:00:35] Omar: Yeah. Thanks.
[00:00:39] Dev: Why don't we introduce ourselves.
[00:00:42] Grace: Sure, I can go first. My name is Grace Koch Muchahary. I was born and raised in India. Pronouns are she/her/hers and right now I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I just graduated with a sociology degree last year, 2022. I'm working, but going back to my Master's in Leadership Program this summer in July.
[00:01:05] Mercy: And my name is Mercy Zou Taithul. I am also originally from India, Northeast to be specific. I am also currently living in Minneapolis, graduated last month; a psychology degree at Augsburg University and I am currently here in Holden Village as a Glocal music new member.
[00:01:25] Omar: If you are part of the Glocal community, you know who's talking right now. My name is Omar Mixco and I'm just so happy to be at Holden and to be in this new podcast for us...that we are able to build new bridges with beautiful community. And actually, I'm so excited because I know that community of Glocals are listening right now; here I am sharing our stories and sharing a new relationship...a new friendship that we are developing in the last three years in Holden Village. So excited. Thank you so much for this beautiful space.
[00:02:07] Dev: Absolutely. And speaking of the India connection, from 98 to 2002, I was living in New Delhi. So I spent the first 16 years of my life in that part of the world. India is very dear to my heart.
[00:02:23] Mercy: Oh, that so good to hear. So sweet to hear. Awesome.
[00:02:27] Omar: And you know what? Adding to the India element, I cannot continue this beautiful time, beautiful conversations without mentioning that from India was our mentor and promoter of this Glocal ministry. I need to mention her name is Sunitha Mortha, who was the director for mission formation in the ELCA back in the time. She will be happy in having a big smile right now listening this conversation. But yeah, she's from India.
[00:03:00] Dev: Okay. The India connection is boundless. Yes. That's wonderful. We love India.
[00:03:07] Grace: Yes. And we love Sunita. Sunita is just amazing. And the first time I met her when I came to know that she was from India, it was just dearest because how she brings all these people together and how the music inspires people...and worship and just learn so many new things...meet so many amazing people musicians. It was just amazing times.
[00:03:31] Omar: Yeah. Thanks to the support of the ELCA and trusting in Sunita's vision and ambition. I think that's how we were able to do this ministry for more than 10 years. And visited India, playing music in India, Puerto Rico, Germany, 500 celebration, you name it, all over the country. And she is the one that put together all these ideas.
[00:03:53] Dev: Music is really such a wonderful way for communities and people to come together cuz in ways in which we can't talk about things, music fills the gap. And that feels like that might be a part of some of the Glocal mission as well.
[00:04:08] Omar: Yes, especially with the Lutheran church. There was something you were looking to hear those avantgarde, challenge messages and music always went for one path without talking on a negative way. It just is what it is. That's that heritage. But I think Lutheran became to be that and something else that opened a space to bring a different voice. In a different instrument besides organ and piano.
And that's where the Glocals...I think we were happy to be the voice of the voiceless. To represent the people and where we are coming, you know, from different countries and still U.S. Americans, but representing...not forgetting our roots and where we are coming from.
[00:04:53] Grace: I totally agree with that too because music is like the dearest to me. I play guitar, I play ukulele, little bit of piano...so I always try to, when I'm stressed or when I'm like, oh, I don't know what to do...then I always sing or play music. Music is just dearest. And even in the church, right when you go sit down...you listen amazing sermons...you listen beautiful message and stuff. And when the music comes in it makes it stronger.
[00:05:24] Mercy: Well, I love singing, like I don't play instrument, but I do wanna learn. However, I have the gift of my voice, like from God, you know? I've been using it in church and, you know, like worship leaders or Sunday school...like worship teams and teaching like kids and all that. That's what I can bring everywhere I go, you know?
I love it because like, when I'm sad, when I'm happy, music can express like all your feelings, you know? Like when I'm down some like songs can light me up, you know? That's how I take music for me in my personal life.
[00:05:57] Dev: So beautifully said by all of you. Fantastic. You were mentioning giving voice to the voiceless. Is there any particular scenarios or situations or people that you want to empower?
[00:06:11] Omar: I was born and raised in Honduras and I was privileged to bring a couple musicians from Honduras, jazz players, and we did a few concerts in the Midwest. And lucky of us, that university that I'm so well connected right now (thanks to Grace and Mercy) Augsburg College was hosting the Nobel Prize Peace Forum before they were doing the big event in Norway. I couldn't believe when they said, Omar, would you be able to bring your Honduran band to our Nobel Prize Peace Forum.
We were representing at that time...a lot of kids were crossing the border without parents and Augsburg College was having that topic...that conversation open within many forums and in many ways. And of course the forum of the Nobel Prize was going to take that topic out on the table and they wanted some Honduran music...authentic Honduran music.
We were able to bring one of our old music instruments called Tambor Garifuna. Garifuna's are one of the indigenous people that are living in the Atlantic in the coast...in the Atlantic and Honduras. I remember that time where we were live in Augsburg College doing the Nobel Prize Peace Forum...and we were thinking about our kids coming out from Honduras when they didn't have any other solution. They migrate like Jesus did. If I'm talking with people who believe in or are part of the faith community, that's what I think what...that's what Mary did, you know, taking Jesus to a safer place.
[00:07:47] Dev: Are there social issues in India that both of you are very passionate about?
[00:07:53] Grace: So there is this really interesting story that happened when pandemic happened. So when Covid hit, people started to say social distancing, social distancing. I think people should not be calling social distancing because India...we have been experiencing social distancing for ages now...and that is called caste system: the biggest social issue injustice that's happening in India right now.
And I am very passionate about it because I am a tribal, a scheduled tribe, which is called Bodo...and we are in a very bottom line...whereas the general people of India is very in front of us because there are more people in India who identify and recognize as general. I belong to Bodo tribe and I want to bring changes in India. The social issue that's been going on that my people experience in every little things...in every little category like example in school, in medical, or like, opportunities to work, getting into a good university or like good salary jobs. Right. They will be like, "oh, you are in the waiting list."
There's just so many brilliant people from our tribals, like Bodo Tribes, who wants to showcase that, who wants to bring that in the world, and especially in India to show that like, hey, Give us a chance, but we don't get that. And I really, really hope that we one day will get through that and be like, okay, we all have equal rights, equal space to bring your talents, your things that you wanna share with people, you wanna learn, you wanna teach people, and stuff like that. So that's one thing that is like very big thing in India is the caste system. And it's a very big social issue. And it's going on right now.
[00:09:47] Dev: It's crazy. All the ways humans create categories. Oh yes.
[00:09:51] Grace: We're just human, right? We all have the same thing. Hand, eyes, everything.
[00:09:57] Mercy: My hometown specific, it's in the northeast, it's called Manipur. And so our Manipur state, our chief minister is a non-Christian. And so currently right now he's trying to get rid of Christianity...and our tribals they are facing weapons and all of that...like gun violence and stuff like that. They burned so far...like more than 40 churches are burned. I believe like currently 300 plus peoples are dead already...and 6,000, 7,000 plus are in refugee camp right now.
Because the chief minister has been wanting and has been planning to take our land because our tribal people have three main forest that's big. And you know, it's like a wildlife forest and he wants our land and he tried to get it. And so that's been going on right now. Like how can human do all of that stuff? So that is something making me like really frustrated to the point where like, my people are suffering right now. You know? And that's definitely our social issues, besides others, like small I issues that we have that I do wanna mention, but it's like I could talk forever, you know? But that's our big main reasons right now.
[00:11:09] Dev: The summer theme that we have right now is Eden is calling. What does that story mean to you and how would you like to talk about that?
[00:11:17] Omar: Maybe because I love apples every time that I see Eden (uncontrollable laughter). Oh my gosh, my God. Can I go and pick up apples? You can do whatever you want, but do not touch this!
[00:11:30] Grace: It looks so good!
[00:11:33] Omar: That's the freedom. That's the one that I want try. I don't wanna try the rest.
[00:11:39] Grace: We human, right? Yeah. Like, do not do that. Do not touch that. That's what we wanna do.
[00:11:45] Omar: Talking about Eden, I think also something that I'm reading here for the material that we're gonna be talking about during this week. A member of the Glocal community, a very beloved friend Benny, who lives in Minnesota...and I wanna maybe later I can name more people...more names. That they are so essential for this ministry...for this collective of musicians. He said, we are the answers of our ancestors' prayers. We are the answer of our ancestors' prayers.
Even I wanna believe...even if my ancestors didn't pray...even if they didn't believe in pray...what if they just were thinking...who would be my part of my family tree 50 years from now? Even if they didn't believe or they didn't share the same faith that I try to practice now. But I'm sure it's easy to think about who will be part of our family tree. And I do have kids, seven year old twins, and I do think about their kids coming...if they decide to have kids...and I'm thinking about their kids. That makes me a grand grandpa and that's so good to me and think about.
And I do pray for the family that is coming. Eden is calling could be about seeking relationship with our ancestors. To help us to repair work and return the right relationship with creation. I think it's so much to learn. It's so much to repair.
[00:13:24] Grace: Our ancestor worked so hard to give us this life...Eden is calling it's just like how it says like...connect with your ancestors...connect with your generation with your family tree or with God and everything. It's just amazing...just being so grateful and thinking very positive. I'm a very positive person.
[00:13:46] Dev: Eden is gratitude. Yes. That mind frame: gratitude.
[00:13:51] Grace: That's a good way to think. So yeah, I just wanna say that I'm very grateful that I'm in Holden Village again this year to share amazing music with different people and new stuff...and with people from Glocal music. So it's been amazing and I would love to stay here and I would love to come here every year.
[00:14:11] Dev: All of you are welcome.
[00:14:13] Omar: Thank you. Thank you. I think the melody and the rhythms is just a seasoning that we add to our stories and our music are stories of people who sing songs that mean so much to us...or for a community of faith that we like to highlight. And that's our job to try to not forget the creators of that beautiful poetry...of that needed poetry. We try our best to add our accent to those languages. We try our best to share those stories to a specific and diverse community like we have today.
And I'm so happy that we are sharing the Holden Village space with other people...with other faith leaders of the Episcopal Church...of the Presbyterian church and Catholic church. I'm just happy to be part of this salad bowl elements...and we just bring the dressing to just to add a little bit more flavor.
[00:15:12] Mercy: Well, this music is something that our world needed right now. The theme or the topic, Eden is calling, you know, calling an instrument by calling people with our songs and our music, you know, like spiritually and by faith, you know, we could definitely change...like music can definitely change people's life, you know, like can bring you closer to God and you know, I think this is like a great time to try to invite more people to face and, you know, like save a lot of people through music.
[00:15:44] Grace: Amen.
[00:15:45] Omar: Amen to that. Amen to that. All right.
[00:15:47] Grace: Preach.
[00:15:49] Outro: Thanks for joining us. Be sure to view the links in the description for more information or visit our website to find out more about the village. We hope you will make a pilgrimage to Holden. Blessings and peace to you.