NY Times Best Selling Author Ian Urbina Combines Music With Journalism In A Powerful Way

Ian Urbina has experienced an incredible career thus far in the world of journalism, winning a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News, a George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting, and his work has been nominated for an Emmy Award. Several of his stories have been adapted into major feature films, including ‘The Outlaw Ocean‘ which was purchased by Netflix and Leonardo DiCaprio. ‘The Outlaw Ocean‘ series was originally published in The New York Times, where Ian Urbina has been an investigative reporter for over two decades.

The Outlaw Ocean‘ reporting, almost all done offshore, took Ian across 5 seas and 14 countries in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, South America, and the Middle East. It resulted in 8 front-page stories in The New York Times and as of last fall, a book by the title of ‘The Outlaw Ocean‘ that has now become a best seller. The book is one of its kind and is no doubt eye opening to the crimes and lawlessness that exists on the high seas all around the world. This reporting touches on a diversity of abuses ranging from illegal and overfishing, arms trafficking at sea, human slavery, gun running, intentional dumping, murder of stowaways, thievery of ships and other topics.

While reporting for more than 5 years at sea, Urbina built an audio library of field recordings. It featured a diversity of textured and rhythmic sounds like machine-gun fire off the coast of Somalia and chanting captive deckhands on the South China Sea. His vision was not only to have this to use for film, but also for a global music project: The Outlaw Ocean Music Project.

The core of this project stems from the fact that musicians and journalists are both storytellers. One uses sounds, the other leverages words. The Outlaw Ocean Music Project is a first-of-its-kind collaboration of such creators. In combining their mediums, these narrators have conveyed emotion and a sense of place in an enthralling new way. On the simplest level though this is simply a captivating collection of inspired songs, which range from electronic and ambient to classical and hip hop.

So far, over 91 artists from all over the world have contributed, including Louis Futon, Herzeloyde, Tinlicker, Solarstone, and Gill Chang to name a few. The result is incredible. It’s amazing to hear the amount of diversity in all of this music, with each artist contributing their own piece of ingenuity to the powerful stories of ‘The Outlaw Ocean’. More releases are promised every other month, with the next one being June 5th. You can learn more about the project by clicking here. Listen below to hear some samples of the work!

Photo Credit: Fabio Nascimento