Marches. Protests. Boycotts. Walkouts.

Things being what they are today, it seems like a good time to seek inspiration with a look at the influence of music and musicians in the political landscape.

So…who’s music is making a difference?

Here are a few artists who continue to work for change via the power of music.

Arcade Fire: Champions for Haiti

Arcade Fire have just been selected to receive the 2018 Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit award for their ongoing humanitarian work with the people of Haiti.

In 2006, the band began donating $1 from every concert ticket sold to help provide healthcare to some of the world’s poorest regions. And in 2014, lead singer Win Butler began selling his “RaRa Coffee” blend with proceeds benefitting healthcare providers “Partners in Health.”

To date, the band has engaged hundreds of thousands of their fans and raised more than $4 million.

Green Day: Outspoken Trump critics

It’s no secret ace rockers Green Day don’t care a whit for President Trump.

Recently, band frontman Billie Joe Armstrong took things a step further, urging Trump’s supporters to stop listening to the band’s music altogether. And during the 2016 American Music Awards, the band launched into a repeated “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA” chorus.

Armstrong has also advocated for the president’s impeachment via Instagram, calling Trump a madman “drunk on power” and “unfit for office.”

Green Day supports a variety of important non-profits, including The Red Cross, Greenpeace, Habitat for Humanity and Amnesty International.

Souvenir Driver: Portland band speaks out with “Brace Yourself”

One of the first artists to speak out about Donald Trump through their music had to be Portland’s own Souvenir Driver. The talented bliss pop group released their epic “Brace Yourself” EP in direct response to Trump’s 2016 election.

Included in our playlist is “Glass Ceiling,” a song that’s become one of their fan’s favorites.

For a taste of their sound, here’s their pleading and poetic “Normalization.”

Souvenir Driver just finished recording a new, soon-to-be-released album.

The band has been donating “Brace Yourself” digital sales proceeds to Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Natural Resources Defense Council and the ACLU. 

Elton John: Tireless champion for AIDS prevention 

Singer, songwriter, composer and pianist Elton John has been a long-time contributor to charities that provide AIDS research and treatment. In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation; it funds programs for HIV/AIDS prevention and provides services to those at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

Since 1993 Elton John has hosted his annual Academy Award Party – now one of the highest-profile Oscar parties in Hollywood – which has raised more than $200 million.

In 2014, he met with Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, D.C., to discuss AIDS relief and the work of his AIDS foundation. He’s also hosted numerous auctions and parties to raise money for the treatment and prevention of AIDS.

Dave Matthews Band and Bama Works

The Dave Matthews Band’s “Bama Works” supports a number of charitable programs primarily in the Charlottesville, VA area.  Bama Works causes include disadvantaged youth, the environment, the arts, and those with disabilities. The nonprofit organization has distributed more than 1,200 grants and raised more than $40M since its inception.

The Dave Matthews Band once donated $1 million from a charity concert to the homeless and children’s charities in San Francisco, California.

In addition, they’ve donated to AIDS causes, music education, the Standing Rock SIOUX Tribe, and received the NAACP Chairman’s Award for their work helping the schools of New York City.

First Aid Kit supports women, #MeToo movement

Alt-country folk duo First Aid Kit released their powerful “You Are the Problem Here” track last year, and it’s been growing in popularity ever since.

Released last year on International Women’s Day, it’s a fierce rock anthem that addresses rape and rapists.

Said the singers in an interview with Consequence of Sound this month:

“We were, and are, sick of living in a society where the victims of rape are often blamed for the horrible thing that has been done to them. Our message is clear and should not be controversial in the least: if you rape, you are the problem. Alcohol is not the problem. So called ‘youth culture’ is not the problem. You are. And you always have a choice.”

The #MeToo movement has given the song more notoriety; it’s slated to be released on vinyl on April 21 for Record Store Day, with both live and studio versions.

All proceeds from “You Are the Problem Here” are being donated to Women for Women International.

Sheryl Crow: Gun Reform

Accomplished rock / pop / country artist Sheryl Crow has become an outspoken champion of gun reform. A mother of two, she released poignant and compelling single “The Dreaming Kind” – a Sandy Hook tribute – in December.

All proceeds from downloads of the song benefit Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit founded by family members of shooting victims. Sandy Hook Promise has trained more than 2 million students and adults to identify the kinds of behavior that often precede gun violence.

The Dreaming Kind

Last year, Crow wrote an articulate opinion piece urging others to push for more responsible gun safety reform – including support for Sandy Hook Promise.

Generous philanthropist Bonnie Raitt

Blues singer-songwriter and ace musician Bonnie Raitt is a founding member of MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy). She has donated concert proceeds to a slew of nonprofit causes and organizations over the years. They include SLO Mothers for Peace, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.

A longtime political advocate, Raitt recently co-headlined a benefit concert for indigenous environmental justice organization “Honor the Earth.” The organization has actively opposed new fossil fuel infrastructure in the northern Great Plains, including pipelines, oil extraction and mining projects. It also works to support the restoration of Native culture and ecosystems throughout the U.S.

Support these and other artists

Isn’t it heartening to know so many artists and musicians continue to help others through music?

Support your favorite artists and non-profits with donations, album purchases and concert attendance…the world will be a better place for it.

Cynthia Orlando
Latest posts by Cynthia Orlando (see all)