Putting out a CD that benefits the local music scene and addresses a major global health issue is not your typical new release. Fortunately for the American Red Cross, Mat Morgan is not your typical volunteer.
Mat Morgan visiting the Mexican Red Cross in 2006.
In late 2007, Morgan got together with some friends to make a record, called “Band Together: To Fight Measles.” Reaching out to unsigned bands and musicians in southern California, he put together the benefit album and posted it on iTunes. Profits from the album support the Measles Initiative, a partnership led by the American Red Cross and its partners that is committed to reducing measles deaths worldwide.
“The University of Southern California has so many talented artists; some are working to launch music careers and a great deal of them just enjoy writing and performing for their friends. I thought it would be fun to create a benefit album that showcased the best artists I heard on campus,” Morgan says.
Morgan is donating the profits from each album sale – $7 after costs – to the Measles Initiative. It costs less than $1 to vaccinate a child against measles – so each record sold can provide seven more vaccinations. Morgan’s goal is to sell enough albums to vaccinate 10,000 children.
Already the CD has gotten great reviews and plenty of media attention. The CD struck gold when the up-and-coming musician Kina Grannis agreed to do a song. Kina’s song “Message From your Heart” was the winner of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest during this year’s Super Bowl, and she has now landed a record deal with Interscope Records.
An Early Start
Morgan already has had a long relationship with the Red Cross, having joined his local chapter after receiving the Congressional Award (U.S. Congress’ highest award for youth).
“The local Red Cross Volunteer coordinator was the nicest person I called, and she also had interesting projects to offer,” Morgan remembers. At the American Red Cross of Ventura Country in California, Morgan worked with two fellow high-school students to launch a Red Cross youth group that is now 500 members strong.
“After a year, I was hooked on the Red Cross for life,” Morgan says fondly.
Morgan went on to the University of Southern California (USC) bringing his commitment and dedication with him. As a freshman, Morgan founded the USC Red Cross club, where he created a reference CD with California State Service Council that provides ideas for other youth groups throughout California. Most recently, Morgan has taken on a leadership position with the Red Cross National Youth Council, serving as its vice chair. He has also started the Red Cross youth blog.
Mat continues his involvement with the Red Cross and hopes that other college students will take action on their campuses.
“If you have a unique idea outside of the normal scope of Red Cross activities, and you think you have the resources to make it happen, contact your local Red Cross and pitch the idea. Be persistent, enthusiastic and optimistic, and reach out to other people to work with you. It will be a great experience and you'll have a great chance of success,” Morgan recommends.
Fortunately for them, Mat Morgan has proven to be an outstanding teacher.
Morgan also hopes that his album will reach even more ears, while helping to protect more and more children against measles. To hear or purchase “Band Together: To Fight Measles,” go to iTunes.
The Measles Initiative is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. Launched in 2001, the Initiative—led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization—provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns worldwide. To date, the Initiative has supported the vaccination of more than 400 million children in 50 countries helping reduce measles deaths by more than 68% globally and 91% in Africa (compared to 2000). To learn more or make a donation, visit www.measlesinitiative.org.