In 1982, Jack Lang and his staff at the Ministry of Culture, France dreamed up an idea for a new kind of musical holiday. They imagined a day where free, live music would be everywhere: street corners and parks, rooftops and gardens, storefronts and mountaintops.
And unlike a typical festival, anyone and everyone would be invited to join play music or host performances. The event would take place on the summer solstice, June 21, and would be called Fete De La Musique. (In French, the name means both “festival of music” and “make music!”)
Amazingly enough, this dream has come true. The Fete has turned into a true national holiday on the summer solstice and musicians take over. Almost 8% of the country (5 million people) have played an instrument or sung in public for the Fete de la Musique.
The festival has become an international phenomenon, celebrated on the same day in more than 120 countries, including Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Australia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada. and Japan.
In the United States, Make Music is celebrated in over 40 states. Makemusicday.org spearheads the events, sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation.
In Africa, over 50 cities celebrate Make Music including Cote d’ivoire: Abijan, Benin: Cotonou, Burkina Faso: Ouagadougou and Togo: Lome.