Peter Buffett at Victoria Theatre
By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
Peter Buffett is a philanthropist, Emmy Award-winning musician, composer, producer, New York Times best-selling author and Co-Chair of the NoVo Foundation, amongst other things, but one of his most cherished labels is “normal.” As the youngest son of much-celebrated investor Warren Buffett, Peter enjoyed a privileged upbringing, but one that some might find, for all of their wealth, refreshingly standard. As a worldly yet grounded public speaker, Peter found he had the opportunity to inspire individuals to a more balanced and connected life.
Peter recently took the time to speak on the phone with Dayton City Paper from his home in upstate New York.
You’ve taken your book, “Life Is What You Make It,” and evolved it into a multi-media performance. Tell us more about it.
It’s as much a conversation certainly as it is a concert, and the reason it’s a conversation is because I take questions through the whole show from the audience, so people can ask me anything at anytime. I’m not going to claim I’ll know the answer, but it’s kind of fun to have a dialogue instead of just me up there speaking … I’m at a piano and my cellist [Michael Kott] is just the greatest. He’s so fun to watch. And then I have all these images and film clips and some of the songs I perform have essentially videos that go with them, so there’s kind of a multi-dimension even to some of the music. – Peter Buffet
Your performance at the Victoria Theatre will benefit the University of Dayton human rights studies program and its development of a human rights center, an issue we understand is very near to your heart.
A human rights center, they should be in every home … I think it’s easy to forget that these are not issues that are happening somewhere else … What I hope to remind everyone, is that these aren’t far away problems or happening to other people, they’re happening right here and now. And, in fact, if you can start to understand a person sitting across from you, that you can really talk to and meet and feel the experience, it gives you a better understanding of someone in India or an African country. Even though every location is different and problems are unique to an area, the fundamental needs of people and what should be right for people are quite similar. You want to live a full, productive, connected life. – PB
You have inspired millions of people. What has inspired you recently?
We live on a little parcel of land here and part of it is farmable, and we have a young farmer that lives here on the land with us. He’s 32 years old, and he is so committed to changing the world through what he can bring to it … He goes to the farmers’ markets and he’s feeding families and changing lives by being connected to where the food comes from and his intention of really doing it in a thoughtful and feeling way. I don’t know how to explain it. That alone is so inspiring, to see younger people doing things out of essentially their heart and the feeling of what their purpose is in the world as opposed to “How can I make money? How can I get a bigger this or a better that?” That’s completely out of his realm of thinking, and that inspires me greatly. It gives me great hope that we’re going to move towards a more connected world. I see the same thing if I go to India and meet a young girl who has had the most horrific story of being trafficked and sold over and over again … That’s something that I could obviously never relate to, but I can talk to her, and see that she is beautiful, resilient, ready to tell her story and change the lives of other girls who have been affected like she has. And the power of the resiliency of people that have been through just terrible, terrible experiences. And again, you can find those people in Dayton. You can find those people anywhere in the world. But they’re ready to live and be brought into the experience of moving forward, for all of our sakes, into again being more connected. We’re living in a disconnected system right now. And yet people are coming up every day that are young and ready to shed the idea that you have to have a bunch of stuff to feel full. That’s very inspiring to me. – PB
That’s wonderful that you get to see that, around the world, we’re all connected through our humanity.
Yeah, I mean, to experience it across the street and across the globe is pretty amazing. I feel like the best thing I can do is just tell those stories and say, “It’s possible.” – PB
“Life Is What You Make It: A Concert & Conversation with Peter Buffett” will be performed at the Victoria Theatre Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available through TicketCenterStage.com. For more information on Peter Buffett, please visit peterbuffett.com.