Jason Mraz will play a free outdoor concert in Myanmar next month to raise awareness about human trafficking, The Associated Press reports. The singer will headline the December 16th show in People's Square in Yangon, at the foot of Shwedagon Pagoda. Hosted by MTV Exit, the show will also include local acts, but Mraz is believed to be the first international artist to play an open-air concert in Myanmar.
"I'm going there with an enormous amount of gratitude and respect, and I hope we can actually make a difference," Mraz said. "I hope it's also a testament to the songs. I've always wanted my songs to be about healing and self-empowerment, and if this is the way MTV is acknowledging that, then I am incredibly grateful."
Mraz became involved with anti-trafficking activism around four years ago after attending the Freedom Awards, an annual event held by the organization Free the Slaves recognizing those fighting against human exploitation. Last year, he held a similar show in the Philippines, but he's says there's much more to be done. "I thought this was something that was abolished when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but all it did is become hidden from our view," Mraz said. "There was a recent estimate that there are about 27 million people enslaved on the planet, certainly due to hard economic times not just in the Western world but certainly in Third World countries. Humans as a commodity is a great way to run your business. So I signed on, lent my voice, lent my music to the cause."
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is experiencing change after a military junta relinquished power to a new elected government last year. The country's national television network will broadcast the event, and MTV's international channel will air the show in 2013.