Galed Krisjayanta, a third-year student at Goshen College, released his first album at the age of 10. Cassettes, CDs, DVDs, and even karaoke versions of him singing traditional Indonesian folk songs have been sold, and every song has a music video.
Krisjayanta’s album was used to raise money for the people of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, which had been devastated by an earthquake in which nearly 3,500 people were killed.
That’s where he found the power of music in healing.
Krisjayanta was born in Yogyakarta and spent his first eight years there. But in 2006 when the earthquake struck, his family was living in Surakarta, about two hours away.
Since his dad was a humanitarian worker with one of the largest Christian non-governmental organizations in Indonesia, Krisjayanta went along to help. His dad suggested that he use his musical talents to help the people who were suffering.
“During the day we [my family and those affected by the earthquake] were playing and singing together,” he said. “It was quite an experience.”
Funded by his dad’s organization, Yakkum, Krisjayanta recorded songs that were sent around the world in exchange for donations. The title of the album was “Alam Sisa,” which translates to “nature and what’s left in it.”
“The music wasn’t about me,” he said. “I just wanted to help. I didn’t think about money; I gave it all to [those affected].”
Krisjayanta and his family stayed in Yogyakarta for two months. While he was working on the album, he also created many lasting friendships.
“I slept there; I ate with them,” he said. “I know what it feels like to be a refugee.”
That’s where he found his motivation.
“You can change the world with music,” said Krisjayanta. “You can make just a small change, but it’s meaningful for others.”
Nearly nine years later, Krisjayanta returned to where his desire to sing for peace began, Yogyakarta.
This time, he traveled with Anthony Brown, former professor at Hesston College, and Ken Rodgers, Hesston College Chorale director. The tour was sponsored by Peacing It Together, an organization that works to bring peace and social justice by way of song.
Accompanied by Rodgers on the piano, Krisjayanta and Brown sang with a message to promote peace through music in five different cities across Indonesia. One of those cities was Yogyakarta.
While Krisjayanta was there, he got to meet a few of the kids who had been refugees back in 2006.
“They came to my concert, and they recognized me,” he said. “I was just so happy to meet them. They had gotten their lives back.”
At the age of 10, he just wanted to sing and help people. The concert in Yogyakarta served as a way to remember the victims of the earthquake. Krisjayanta even sang songs from his childhood CD.
This was Krisjayanta’s first tour to promote peace, but Brown has performed nearly 50 concerts promoting peace in various conflict areas over the years. Combining music and storytelling, Brown sings for peace all around the world and has done so in places like Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Colombia, among others.
“Singing for peace means using music to promote a sense of connection and oneness between people,” said Brown. “I believe that music can be a powerful source for promoting peace and goodwill in the world.”
Brown felt like the concerts in Indonesia had made an impact.
“The concerts were well received,” he said. “We were with many kindred spirits, and we made good connections, making many new friends.”
Since he has retired from teaching, Brown continues to sing for peace around the world. He recently traveled to Austria and the Philippines to perform—and he said he is “making plans for more trips.”
Even though this was relatively new for Krisjayanta, he would like to do more of this in the future.
Krisjayanta earned an associate’s degree from Hesston College in 2015 before he transferred to Goshen College this year in pursuit of his bachelor’s degree in music.
He is living by his motto, “serve for joy, sing for peaceful mind,” and looking to continue using his talents to help those in need.
“Everything that I do, I always remember my motto,” he said. “Serving others is just joy, and it includes singing. It creates a peaceful mind for myself, the community, and especially for God.”
After graduating from Goshen, Krisjayanta hopes to go to graduate school and build from there.
“My dream is to become a singer in the U.S.,” he said. “And then I’ll go back home [to Indonesia] and start a school that focuses on classical music and musical theater.”
He recognizes that “this career is not easy,” but that hasn’t shaken his confidence.
“I want to sing,” he said. “I want to help people.”