Ahead of a major United Nations conference in Samoa on small island developing countries, iTunes has teamed up with the UN to create a dedicated page on the popular site - launched today - featuring music from artists born and raised in some of the world's smallest islands.
The "Island Voices" initiative (www.iTunes.com/islandvoices) showcases the eclectic range of works of 57 musicians from the world's small island nations and features their songs, which can be easily accessed and purchased from the online iTunes Store.
Drawing attention to the Third United Nations Conference on the Small Island Developing States, scheduled to take place from 1 to 5 September in the Samoan capital, Apia, the iTunes partnership also coincides with the 2014 International Year of Small Island Developing States, which has been designated by the UN to celebrate the remarkable diversity, culture and heritage of small islands throughout the world.
The dedicated page on iTunes aims to promote the diversity of music from the islands and its contribution to international music, and will feature the best works from the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, celebrate many of gifted singers and songwriters and promote music across multiple genres, from reggae to calypso, and from hip-hop to jazz and dance.
Among the well-known icons included on the iTunes page are Bob Marley (Jamaica), Rihanna (Barbados), Cèsaria Evoria (Cape Verde) and Ibrahim Ferrer (Cuba).
'Island Voices' will also spotlight lesser known musicians, such as Vanessa Quai from the Republic of Vanuatu, Dilli Allstars from Timor-Leste, Rosalia from Fiji and Imany Mladja, from Comoros.
In a video-message on the iTunes page, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasizes that artists from the small island developing States are among the "giants in musical history."
"Every day, island voices are heard all across the planet through music. They represent the spirit and aspiration of the people" said Mr. Ban. "Music helps connect these beautiful islands to the wilder world, influencing global popular culture" he added.
The partnership was initiated by the UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), which worked with Permanent Missions of small island States and iTunes' specialist music curators to create a list of songs and artists that reflect the variety and the quality of these 57 islands and their culture.
"One of the chief challenges that all islands face is remoteness, and as such, connectivity to the wider world is a key challenge. iTunes is arguably the largest megaphone in the world, and what better opportunity to showcase the extraordinary and vibrant musical heritage from the small islands" said Ricardo Dunn, Advocacy and Outreach Officer for UN-OHRLLS.
Two days before the official conference on the Small Island Developing States next week, UN-OHRLLS has organized a Private Sector Partnership Forum in Samoa, and hopes that this will be the first of many innovative initiatives to be announced that will benefit small island nations.