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Jade Rhodes: “Invisible” – A Song for Darfur refugees

Los Angeles (CNN) Sometimes the world seems to spin as it should.

Violence and vitriol take a backseat to something wholesome and spiritual.

People at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles shared one of those moments recently during The Concert for Social Justice.

Jackson Browne, Crosby & Nash, Melissa Etheridge and Tom Morello took the stage. Their music has long been used as a tool for global awareness and change.

But it was a 13-year-old girl who stole the show.

Jade Rhodes from Malibu who wrote a song about Darfur refugees.

It’s called “Invisible” and it asks you to walk in the shoes of people that the world chooses not to see.

“Invisible” won the inaugural “Speak Up, Sing Out” contest.

That’s how Rhodes ended up singing alongside some of music’s biggest legends. Her performance earned her a standing ovation from a very moved full house.

Rhodes spoke to CNN‘s John Vause about the message behind the music.

darfur 1Vause: “Why did you choose to sing about the crisis in Darfur? What do you actually know about what’s been going on there with the war that’s been going on for more than a decade now?”

Rhodes: “Well, I learned about it last year and I really felt passionate about it. It’s terrible what’s going on there and I really wanted to write about it just to raise more awareness.”

Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) who fled their village following clashes between the Government of Sudan and rebel movements, look on at the Zamzam IDP camp in North Darfur, in this March 15, 2011 handout photograph. REUTERS/UNAMID/Olivier Chassot/HandoutVause: “This is essentially about invisible people being seen, especially the kids and the refugees. How does a teenage girl living in Los Angeles identify with that?”

Rhodes: “It was really hard for me to comprehend what’s going on there and understand it. But then a few months ago, I read this book of poetry from the perspective of a Darfur war refugee, and it really helped personalize the issue for me.”

Vause: “What do you want people to take away from this song once they hear it?”

Rhodes: “It’s an issue that’s been going on for awhile, and it’s awful, and it’s affected a lot of people. I want everyone to see these invisible people because they deserve to be seen.”

darfur 3Vause: “You wrote the lyrics. You also wrote the music for all of this. Did that take a lot of time and was it emotional for you to get those words together?”

Rhodes: “It was really emotional just trying to put myself in those shoes and just thinking about it. It took me a couple of weeks to write because I started with the verses and took me quite awhile to write the chorus because I was having a lot of trouble figuring out what I wanted the song to say and what I wanted people to take away from it.”

Jade Group

Vause: “And when you performed this song, there were some pretty big names in the audience: Melissa Etheridge, Jackson Browne. What was it like to perform in front of greats of the music industry?”

Rhodes: “It was incredible. It was such a humbling experience. I was really nervous when I first got there and did my soundcheck, but then, Jackson Browne came and helped me with my mic, and everybody just helped me feel at ease.”

Vause: “You got this incredible standing ovation when you performed this and you walked away the winner from this contest, so what comes next for you, now?”

Rhodes: “I’m just gonna keep practicing and writing and just keep loving music and see where that goes.”

Written and produced by: Ben Bamsey for “CNN Newsroom.”

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