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MSN Brings Musicians and Sacred Places Together

Redmond, WA — In early October, international recording artist Alanis Morissette will stand among the ruins of ancient Indian villages and begin to sing – her music creating a bridge between the people who once lived in Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly and the millions of television viewers and Web users around the world who will take part in that experience.

In a yearlong series of one-hour television specials beginning October 6, a dozen of the world’s best known recording artists – from Morissette to Lyle Lovett -- will lead viewers on musical journeys to some of the world’s most culturally and spiritually significant locations.

MSN will feature at least 12 hours of additional footage from each episode of the "Music in High Places" (MIHP)" series as an exclusive digital Web adventure at a new Web site designed specifically for the series (http://musicinhighplaces.msn.com). The hour-long specials, which will feature an acoustic concert from each of the ancient sacred sites and show the artists interacting with local people, will be broadcast initially as part of DIRECTV’s monthly FREEVIEW® concert series. RadioShack, with the assistance of RCA, also plans to air portions of the performances in more than 7,000 of its stores nationwide. RadioShack will augment its broadcast efforts by streaming exclusive online content in the Windows Media format at its Microsoft Internet Centers.

"To me, one of the most exciting things about this project is that people who may never have the resources to touch the four corners of the globe can actually have the virtual experience of visiting these places through this series," said Parvene Michaels, one of the executive producers of MIHP and the creator of the series. "We want MIHP to open the windows of the mind to what’s on the other side of our planet. We all tend to think of our world as our own backyard, when we really have a much bigger backyard."

Music in High Places will chronicle the thoughts, adventures and experiences of the 12 artists as they travel to their designated sites, mingle with people who are part of the indigenous culture of each area, and learn more about the historic, cultural and spiritual significance of the sites where they will perform.

Morissette’s adventure will take place at Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Visitors to Canyon de Chelly can see the ruins of Southwestern Indian villages, built between 350 AD and 1300 AD, which are located at the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon-wall caves. Highlights of the episode will include an exploration of the primitive ruins, chanting and instrumental performances by Native American musicians and an acoustic concert by Morissette at a tribal stone and mud ruin that was once home to Native Americans. Up to 12 hours of Morissette’s adventure, including everything from her breakfast to ceremonial dancing by firelight, can be viewed exclusively on MSN.

"We believe that MSN is the ideal destination to help us create an online adventure," Michaels said. "MSN and Microsoft have a vast wealth of online content and services, which they are making available on the MIHP site to help people learn more about these ancient locations."

Launching in late October, the new MSN Web site for Music in High Places will include extensive materials and information for each episode. Using Microsoft’s Windows Media Player, listeners will be able to hear special audio content and see it customized for MIHP with an exclusive MIHP skin – an on-screen graphic that acts as a wrapper for the Windows Media Player and provides a customized online souvenir for users. Users can enhance their enjoyment of the Music in High Places adventure by participating in celebrity chats through online communities, receiving weekly newsletters and viewing exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and online "unplugged" sessions – only on MSN.

Expedia.com travel service will provide photographs and geographical information about the sites, as well as adventure vacation packages for viewers who wish to make a similar journey themselves. Microsoft’s Encarta 2001 will provide cultural and educational links. Viewers can even purchase exclusive MIHP products through MSN eShop, including MIHP world music CDs.

"The viewer’s experience and viewing enjoyment won’t stop when the show ends on television," said Robyn Pitts, MSN product manager. "Users can go online and engage in chats, see journal entries, get 360-degree perspectives of the site, and purchase merchandise online. We see this as a fully integrated online program, involving various sites and services across the MSN network to create a richer and more engaging experience for our users."

Portions of proceeds from the Music in High Places television franchise support the GRAMMY Foundation, a nonprofit organization that engages in a variety of cultural, professional and educational activities designed to enhance music education on all levels. One of the goals of the series is to create greater awareness of these important locations. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) world heritage mission seeks to define and conserve the world’s heritage by designating protected cultural and natural sites and then ensuring their protection through a closer cooperation among nations. 

According to Michaels, locations being considered for upcoming episodes include: Abu Simbel, Giza, Luxor and Karnak, Egypt; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; Ajanta, Ellora Caves, Sanchi, Taj Mahal and Varanasi, India; Ayers Rock, Australia; Borobudur and Prambanan, Indonesia; Chichen Itza, Mexico; The Oracle at Delphi, Greece; Easter Island; The Great Wall, Luoyang, and Mount T’ai Shan, China; Hue Monuments, Vietnam; Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos, Bolivia; Kathmandu, Nepal; Lalibela, Ethiopia; Machu Picchu, Peru; Masada, Israel; Nemrut Dagh, Turkey; Pagan, Burma; Persepolis, Iran; Petra, Jordan; Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka; Stonehenge, United Kingdom; and, Tikal, Guatamala. 

"This is the first time we’ve integrated a property of this unique nature throughout MSN," said Pitts. "Our alliance with MIHP underscores our commitment to work with leading content providers to help users get a more robust and interactive experience from their time online."
News, photos provided by Business Wire.
 
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