Andrea Burt ’09 Hits the Red Carpet at the AMAs
Andrea Burt ’09, third from left, poses on the red carpet at the AMAs with Paraguay’s H2O Ensemble.
Last November Andrea Burt ’09 found herself someplace she never imagined she’d be: on the red carpet at the American Music Awards with the likes of will.i.am, Psy, Taylor Swift and Pink.
She even snagged an interview with Ted Stryker, the AMA host on the red carpet.
With Burt were eleven young musicians from her native Paraguay whose performances raise awareness about the importance of water conservation in Latin America. Dubbed the H2O Ensemble, they make their own quirky instruments from recycled bottles, hoses, pipes and funnels.
Coke sponsored the red carpet show and highlighted its Ekocycle collaboration with will.i.am. With that uber-recycling theme in mind, Coke and will.i.am invited H2O to perform.
Burt is the institutional relations coordinator for the Paraguayan nonprofit that created H2O, Sonidos de La Tierra (Sounds of the Land), and represented Sonidos in Los Angeles.
The ensemble’s performance was broadcast to news, TV and radio shows in Paraguay. When they got back home, they were celebrities.
“This was the first time Paraguayan artists participated in an awards show of this kind,” Burt says. “The day we returned to Asuncion, every single newspaper, magazine, newscast and radio station in the country was waiting for us at the airport. It was crazy.”
Sonidos was started in 2002 by Luis Szarán, a conductor, composer, social entrepreneur and one of Paraguay’s biggest celebrities. He wanted to use music to bring kids and young adults together for social and cultural change. Some 14,000 children and youth from 172 communities in Paraguay have participated in Sonidos programs.
Burt always admired Sonidos but never imagined working there. “It is one of Paraguay’s most powerful emblems of social change,” she said, “but I am not a musician.” Then, a job opened in 2011 that seemed perfect. “I write the projects, apply for grants, work with donors and international volunteers, manage the Sonidos de la Tierra brand and take care of the social marketing,” she says.
Her next challenges? Starting a national environmental education program with H2O, launching a Sonidos program in Mexico and setting a Guinness World Record for the largest harp ensemble.
“I am pursuing my passion, social entrepreneurship, in the country I love,” Burt says when asked what it’s like to be back home in Paraguay. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in any other place.”