symphony for peruJuan Diego Flórez is a highly-recognized, award-winning Peruvian tenor, who has sung on the most coveted stages, including Covent Garden and Milan’s La Scala. He is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and in 2011, he started Symphony for Peru. The foundation offers music classes and activities for children in low-income families, giving them a chance to develop their talent, teach them values through the arts and pull them away from at-risk situations.

The Need for Creativity

After struggling in the 80s and 90s with terrorism, hyperinflation and corruption, Peru started recovering and achieving steady economic growth from the beginning of 2005 to 2013. Poverty rates decreased and the stable economy gave Peruvians hope of improving their quality of life. This growth, however, has not been able to translate into proper educational or social development. Although it no longer stands in the last place of the PISA rankings, there is still much work to be done. With this in mind, Flórez stepped in and decided to help in the best way he knew: through music.

Juan Diego Flórez created Symphony for Peru, or Sinfonía por el Perú in Spanish, in 2011 to promote musical education in Peru’s most distant and poorest communities, throughout Coastal, Andean and Amazon regions. Flórez used the structure of the Venezuelan government’s music program as inspiration for Symphony for Peru; José Antonio Abreu created this program, who linked musical skills as a route to improve social and personal development.

Music to Peru’s Ears

Symphony for Peru aims to help children in low-income communities. The organization provides music education not only for children to develop their creative skills, but also to provide a different form of entertainment or hobby, taking them away from the risks of the streets, including drugs, crime and teenage pregnancy, and into the classroom.

As it is spread out throughout the country, the Symphony for Peru created different core groups of around 400 and 600 children who participate in either choirs, orchestras or jazz bands. It also works to have two luthier workshops, where children can practice instrument development by learning how to build and tune their own instruments. Another important aspect of the organization is their main Symphony Orchestra, which performs a couple of times per year and has recently recorded and released its own Christmas album.

Perhaps the most innovative way to show the results of the work Symphony for Peru is doing is by letting the children speak for themselves. Students in the organization can show their improvement and talent with patrons and the general audience in free concerts that Flórez organized. These often happen in July, Peru’s independence month.

An Impact through Music

More than 8,000 children have developed their skills as part of the program, and as a result, perseverance and efficacy at school has improved, as well as their behavior and ability to focus in the classroom. Additionally, the organization has proven to be a useful and more productive way for children to spend their time, and the levels of both psychological and physical abuse in the families of students have drastically decreased.

There is no doubt that Flórez is one of Peru’s most important cultural ambassadors. His talent and work ethic lead him to the top, and music critics compare him to some of the best opera tenors in the world like Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. His greatest gift, though, may not be his musical talent, but his selflessness and generosity, as well as his will to give back to his country and share his skills with the people who need it the most.

– Luciana Schreier
Photo: Flickr

Global Citizen FestivalMusic festivals are growing in number and popularity across the globe. The Global Citizen Festival, however, offers so much more than good old fashioned entertainment. Here’s how this festival is mobilizing its attendees to fight against global poverty.

Who is in Charge?

The organization behind the festival is a nonprofit called the Global Poverty Project. The main goal of the organization is to educate people about global poverty issues and ways they can help. In 2011, the Global Poverty Project launched the Global Citizen Campaign, which has led to a total of 14 million global-poverty-reducing actions by people across the world. The campaign’s ultimate mission is to end extreme poverty by 2030.

The organization is also well-known for launching the first Global Citizen Festival seven years ago. The annual festival is held in New York City’s Central Park and features a slew of well-known performers such as Janet Jackson, Shawn Mendes, Cardi B and The Weeknd. The premise of the festival may sound reminiscent of Live Aid, the 1985 “superconcert” which raised nearly $127 million in famine relief for Africa.

How to Attend

In order to obtain a ticket for the festival, potential concertgoers must watch online videos about global poverty, complete quizzes on these videos and take action by volunteering, or emailing/calling congress members. Those who accomplish these tasks are rewarded with a free ticket to the festival. The event itself is alcohol-free and is loaded with global-poverty related booths that offer games, photo-ops, information, and opportunities to take action. At previous Global Citizen Festivals, world leaders have come on stage intermittently to educate attendees about all that can be done to combat global poverty in their everyday lives following the music festival. In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were among these speakers.

The Festival’s Impact

The actions that the festival incites have led to the creation of programs, policies and funds; the effects of which have been felt by nearly 647 million impoverished people across the globe. For example, after receiving 4,700 tweets from Global Citizens, The Power of Nutrition (a U.K. based team of investors) committed to providing Rwanda with $35 million allocated toward ending malnutrition in the nation. Policies and commitments such as these which have been prompted by Global Citizens equate to more than $37 billion.

The Global Citizen Festival is a prime example of a positive, action-oriented event with the aim of eradicating global poverty. It offers people an affordable way to fight the good fight, while also enjoying the talents of world-famous performers.

– Ryley Bright
Photo: Wikimedia

Civil Rights Songs
Music has an undeniable connection to civil rights movements. As Gregory Harper, a former museum director and archaeologist turned musician says, music has often been used in the service of civil rights and political awareness. Songs were chosen based on the influence in specific civil rights movements, as well as their popularity and legacies. In the text below, the top 10 civil rights songs are presented, but due to their importance and quality, they can be deemed as the top 10 of the best songs ever recorded. They are listed in alphabetical order and there is no importance in their specific ranking.

Top 10 Civil Rights Songs

  1. “Glad to Be Gay”- Tom Robinson Band. Written for a London gay pride parade, “Glad to Be Gay” was banned by the BBC upon its release. It became an anthem for the LGBTQ community in London. Tom Robinson has said that “Glad to Be Gay” was about the non-conforming, from lesbians to transgenders. With this proud song, Tom Robinson gave a voice to the people that might have never had a voice before.
  2. “Free Nelson Mandela”- The Specials. “Free Nelson Mandela” was a Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom in 1984. The song became an anthem for the anti-apartheid movement for people outside of South Africa and forced the privileged, white populations of the West to become aware of the issues in South Africa. Undoubtedly, this song influenced the citizens of powerful nations to beg their leaders to aid the fight against apartheid in South Africa.
  3. “From Little Things, Big Things Grow”- Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody. Written by two Australian artists in the early 1990s, this song tells of the inspiring story of the Gurindji people and their struggle for land rights. The lyrics tell of the 1966 Wave Hill walk-off that was originally focused on poor working conditions and low wages. The walk-off turned into much more since eight years later, Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam gave these people their land back, igniting the Aboriginal land rights movement. Today, this song continues to symbolize the struggle for recognition of natives all over the world.
  4. “Mannenberg”- Abdullah Ibrahim. Released in 1974, “Mannenberg” combined South African-jazz with African-American jazz-rock fusion. The outcome was a song that South African blacks clung to as their own. The influence of this song in South Africa’s fight against apartheid, along with its mixture of cultures, solidifies it as one of the best civil rights songs.
  5. “People Get Ready”- Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. Released in 1965 during the American Civil Rights Movement after Curtis Mayfield watched the March on Washington, this gospel song turned mainstream hit has been covered countless times by many artists.
  6. “Redemption Song”- Bob Marley. To pick Marley’s best civil rights song is difficult, but “Redemption Song”, that was released on Marley’s last studio album appropriately named “Uprising”, seems fitting. Using words from a 1937 speech of Marcus Garvey’s, Marley tells of physical and mental freedom, the hallmarks of all civil rights movements.
  7. “Strange Fruit”- Billie Holiday. The most popular version of the song is Billie Holiday’s version, a symbolic mosaic of the pain that black people have endured in the United States, selling one million copies in its first year. Originally written by Abel Meeropol in reaction to the infamous photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, 1999 Time Magazine named “Strange Fruit” the best song of the century.
  8. “Sunday Bloody Sunday”- U2. As Irish rock band U2 was gaining momentum, soon to become the biggest rock bands of their time, they used their platform to share a perspective on the Bloody Sunday massacre, incident that occured in 1972 in the area of Derry, Northern Ireland. In 2010, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron apologized on behalf of his country for the incident. The progress that was made by the Northern Irish in order to receive such an apology could not have been done without U2’s true-life tale that told those all over the world about the violence that was done to the people of Northern Ireland.
  9. “We Shall Overcome”- Pete Seeger. In 2018, the song’s lyrics became part of the public domain which is appropriate as the lyrics have traced back to the 18th century as slaves would sing similar verses while working. Pete Seeger brought it to mainstream consciousness, after hearing a group of mostly black tobacco workers sing the song during a strike. Joan Baez sang the song during the March on Washington. President Johnson uttered the words “we shall overcome” in his defense of the Voting Rights Act. The song continues to be sung at countless global, civil rights protests.
  10. “Zombie”- Fela Kuti. In a rebuke of the Nigerian military’s violent tactics, Kuti wrote “Zombie”. The Nigerian army acted swiftly, noting the song’s message as well as Kuti’s influence on the poorer populations of Africa. They pillaged Kuti’s commune and threw his elderly mother out of a window, resulting in her death. Kuti did not stop making music, symbolizing the resilience of those he gave a voice to. The legacy of “Zombie”, as well as the direct influence Kuti had in promoting civil rights, make this one of the best civil rights songs.

These songs listed above are masterpieces, but it is the people’s emotional connection to them what makes them even more valuable. They are directly connected to fight for human rights and will be surely used in the future as well.

– Kurt Thiele

Photo: Flickr

Music and Poverty
Robert Browning once said, “Who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once.” For those living in poverty around the world, being surrounded by others in the same predicament often manifests in a collective loneliness. While the cadence of the day-to-day drones on, music’s tempo sets the pulse of nations. Music and poverty may dance in the shadows at times, but their connection lives beyond subtleties — it is a real and often necessary connection.

Medicine for the Soul

Just how powerful is music? According to eMedExpert, an online informational Web site dedicated to health and medicine, music can:

  • Boost immunity to disease
  • Benefit emotional intelligence, and turn negative thoughts to positive
  • Create stronger literacy skills
  • Increase productivity

The Fajara Cancer Centre in Nairobi, Kenya bears witness to the healing power of music. When Berklee College of Music graduate Cara Smith did research in East Africa for her degree in music therapy, cancer patient Aisha hadn’t spoken all week while undergoing treatments. The two sat down together and wrote a song, creating an avenue for Aisha to express herself despite the verbal challenges from personal trauma.

Inspired, Smith went on to create Umoja Community Music Therapy which now operates in more than 50 schools, hospitals and community centers in Uganda and Kenya.

Smith, along with fellow graduates Brooke Hatfield and Kristina Casale, have also seen former child soldiers climb out of depression and trauma to find joy, and young women become empowered through music. Smith points out the connection of music to East African culture and sees it as an open door ready to be pushed.

“El Sistema”

Passing away earlier this year, Jose Antonio Abreu left a legacy of the profound impact of music. As founder of a music program for Venezuelan children, Abreu understood the relationship between music and poverty. His program, known widely as “El Sistema” (the system), trained musicians across all social classes.

According to Abreu, the system fought poverty at its roots. He explained to 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon, “A child’s physical poverty is overcome by the spiritual richness that comes from music.”

El Sistema helped to create other musical movements in developing countries, such as those implemented by Children International (CI), an organization devoted to breaking the cycle of poverty on the world stage. With programs in the Dominican Republic since 2014 and Columbia since 2015, CI sees first-hand how the method puts an emphasis on peer-to-peer instruction, cultivating leadership and selflessness, and  keeps youth away from gangs and other destructive environments at the same time.

Then, there are the nonquantifiable effects of music. Juan David, a participant in the Columbian program, says “when I’m playing, I feel very peaceful and calm, because I leave my world behind.”

Power and Purpose

While a temporary escape from reality might be welcome, song may wield the power to affect real change in health and development outcomes through their musical passions. Case studies in Africa have shown the utility of songs in networking, fundraising and advocacy.

In 2008, U2’s lead singer and humanitarian, Bono, led his One Campaign, which united over 100 international artists, and put major pressure on G8 summit leaders to create change. More recently, in 2014, One’s Do Agric Campaign sent a message to African leaders to invest in agriculture.

The cornerstone song for that campaign, Cocoa na Chocolate, plainly stated: “like the seeds of light forever, let the Earth provide for her children.” The track, one of the biggest collaborations in Africa’s history, inspired a nation to take initiative and provide for itself.

Music, Poverty and Change

In Africa, songs have been written for political mobilization, as a tool for therapy, as a cry against social injustices and as a show of cultural solidarity.

Music and poverty seem to provide limited evidence of a direct cause/effect correlation (i.e., music decreasing levels of poverty), but music’s inherent emotional value strikes a subliminal chord almost universally. With iconic international musicians like U2 writing charity songs that encourage action, music disseminates information and raises awareness, while encouraging those in poverty that they are not alone.

In every song, there are notes of struggle, relatable and comforting; there are notes of dignity, reminding of a need for hope; there are notes of resistance, pressing people to find relief from stress and the motivation to change their condition.

-Daniel Staesser
Photo: Flickr

Pitch & FlowMC Lyte and DJ D-Nice hosted Pitch & Flow, a competition where rappers and social entrepreneurs join together to win money for their causes.

Pitch & Flow was held on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. According to XXL, celebrity guests included Stretch Armstrong, Melissa Bradley, Young Paris and Doug E. Fresh.

The Africa Creative Agency, Unreasonable Group and Lowe’s Innovation Labs paired the rappers and the social entrepreneurs together for the competition. The eight rappers weave the goals of their entrepreneurs into stories that encouraged the audience to vote for them. After three rounds, the winning duo won $7500 for their cause.

The causes championed at Pitch & Flow represented many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Some of the goals illustrated within the causes include uses for solar energy, educating the incarcerated and recyclable material production.

According to CityLab, all of the rappers involved in Pitch & Flow are passionate about social issues themselves. Many of them “double as activists and educators, and are in line with the grassroots vibe of the whole event. One of them even served as a Hip-Hop Cultural Envoy for the U.S. State Department.” The event gives rappers the opportunity to use their skills to promote a good cause.

Pitch & Flow also provides a unique opportunity for the organizations in regards to informing others about what the organization is about. Rap presents the organizations’ values in a creative and concise way that sticks with an audience.

At the end of Pitch & Flow, rapper and Northeastern University math professor Professor Lyrical and Sun Culture entrepreneur Samir Ibrahim won the $7500 prize. Sun Culture is an organization that “provides solar-powered irrigation systems to farmers in East Africa,” according to Essence.

Pitch & Flow illustrates how the creative arts can be used to promote worthwhile global causes.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

Glastonbury Live Album
The Glastonbury Festival has been held in Pilton, England every summer since 1970. This year’s festival is exceptionally special as the first ever Glastonbury live album will be released on July 11.

NME, the British music and entertainment publication, reports that all proceeds from the Glastonbury live album, Stand As One, will go toward Oxfam International’s Refugee Crisis Appeal initiative.

Oxfam International is an alliance made up of 18 organizations that began its mission in 1995. According to their website, Oxfam “works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive.”

Oxfam works globally to fix a number of issues like inequality, fair distribution of natural resources, women’s rights and the growth of sustainable food in developing countries.

The Refugee Crisis Appeal is an emergency campaign to raise money for countries that are overwhelmed by refugees, such as Jordan, Syria, Italy and Greece.

The Oxfam website states that they have already provided 45,000 people with water on the border of Syria and Jordan by constructing a water tank, served 100,000 meals on the Greek island Lesbos and given legal counsel to many refugees in Italy.

Oxfam decided to dedicate the album to the late Jo Cox, a member of Parliament and Labor Party politician. Cox spent 10 years working at Oxfam and was a longtime advocate for refugees across the globe.

“Given Jo’s tireless work to help refugees both at Oxfam and beyond it felt appropriate to dedicate the album to her,” Oxfam’s Chief Executive Mark Goldring said in a press release.

Goldring stated later in the interview that Glastonbury’s live album will be, “bringing the weight of the music world in support of people in desperate need.”

Thousands of people will crowd 900 acres of farmland to see artist like Coldplay, Muse, Sigur Ros, Chvrches, The 1975 and Wolf Alice.

There will be incredible music, beautiful art displays and fields filled with passionate fans, but this year refugees will be represented on one of the largest stages in the world.

Liam Travers

Photo: Radio X

Musicians
Can you name at least three musicians who fight poverty in unorthodox ways? In a recently announced project, major hitters in the music industry will be joining together to produce a new album aimed at reducing poverty around the world. Some of the musicians already attached to the project include stars like Kanye West, Ellie Goulding and Mumford & Sons.

The album, entitled Metamorphoses, will be sponsored by Global Citizen, a nonprofit that brings people together to fight global poverty. This project is a logical extension of the organization’s previous work, which often includes organizing major concerts to raise funds and build awareness for poverty-fighting efforts.

What makes Metamorphoses unique is the fact that fans have been called upon to submit lyrics, poems, and even short stories for the musicians to incorporate into the 12 tracks. According to Global Citizen’s CEO, Hugh Evans, this highly interactive process will include material from people all over the world, making the project “a truly global tribute to our collective responsibility” to fight poverty.

How will the album ultimately help alleviate poverty? Producers are planning to employ slightly unorthodox methods that sidestep traditional fundraising techniques. Instead of buying the album with actual currency, fans can “purchase” Metamorphoses by making commitments to take action to fight poverty.

This kind of outreach has the potential to build lifelong warriors against poverty, as opposed to one-time donors. Those who “buy” the album are offering to engage with the anti-poverty movement through direct action, such as educating their elected officials about the issue and petitioning those with law-making power.

The project itself was dreamed up by Global Citizen in partnership with Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons. According to Lovett, the “crowd-sourcing” of material makes the project especially exciting. “Metamorphoses has the potential to break down our preconceptions of the voices of creativity, what different people around the world are thinking and who has the right to be heard,” Lovett claims.

Set to be released in the Fall of 2016, Metamorphoses is destined to be an exciting and unique album with the potential to do a lot of good and foster activism through the power and process of creating music, according to Global Citizen.

Jennifer Diamond

Photo: Flickr

One Direction and action/2015
In July, British boy band One Direction (Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Harry Styles) partnered with action/2015 to encourage teens to change the future.

Action/2015 is a coalition of 2020 organizations around the world who undertake issues such as poverty, inequality and climate change. By raising awareness of these issues, they hope that world leaders will affect change.

“Young people really do have the power to help end poverty, tackle inequality and to stop dangerous climate change. Now is the time for us to unite, take action and raise our voices to show that we care about the future of our planet,” the band says.

The band is encouraging fans to post videos where they describe the kind of world they want to live in. The members also participated and posted their own videos.

Louis Tomlinson says, “I want to live in a world where every child can see a doctor when they’re sick.”

Niall Horan and Liam Payne say, “We want to live in a world where every young person has the same chance to fulfill their dreams.”

Harry Styles says, “I want to live in a world where every child can go to school.”

Action/2015 hopes that One Direction’s fan base will allow young people to contribute to global conversations, especially with the upcoming U.N. Summit in New York this September.

Brendan Cox, a participant in action/2015 says, “One Direction is the biggest band in the world and by mobilizing the millions of young people in their fan base they’ll shine a light onto the most important issues of our time.”

The band has already received 77,756 videos. They say, “Time and again our fans have shown how creative and powerful they can be when they unite and that’s why we want to all join together to speak out and hopefully make a real and lasting change to the world around us.”

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Action 2015, Action 1D, The Drum, U.N.
Photo: Flickr

Songs_Advocating_Hope
Music has the power to spread messages and awareness. Even further, music has the ability to capture emotions and leave the listener with a particular feeling. Below are lyrics from seven songs that call for hope and love and dream of an ideal and peaceful world.

1. “The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky,
Are also on the faces of people going by.
I see friends shaking hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”
They’re really sayin’ “I love you.”
I hear babies cryin’. I watch them grow.
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.”

-(What a) Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

2. “Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.”

-Imagine by John Lennon

3. “Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.”

-Over the Rainbow performed by Judy Garland

4. “We could fly so high, let our spirits never die
In my heart I feel you are all my brothers
Create a world with no fear
Together we cry happy tears
See the nations turn their swords into plowshares
We could really get there
If you cared enough for the living
Make a little space
To make a better place
Heal the world.”

– Heal the World by Michael Jackson

5. “We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true, we’ll make a better day
Just you and me.”

-Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie

6. “We’re begging save the children
The little ones who just don’t understand
Give them a chance to breed their young
And help purify the land
People please hear us (people please hear us)
Through our voice the world knows
There’s no choice.”

-We Got To Have Peace by Curtis Mayfield

7. “There can be miracles when you believe
Though hope is frail it’s hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe somehow you will
You will when you believe”

-When You Believe performed by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

– Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: A-Z Lyrics, YouTube 1, YouTube 2, YouTube 3, YouTube 4, YouTube 5, YouTube 6, YouTube 7, Personal Excellence
Photo: Flickr

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Pop radio in recent decades has featured a considerable amount of hip-hopping crossover tunes, courtesy of some of the music industry’s fascinating producers. And with a heavy helping hand of these talents, ten of these following beat-maker producers have long held interest in relieving regions of catastrophic-induced conflicts.

10. Controversial rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs is synonymous with charitable causes supporting medical research of HIV/AIDS and cancerous diseases. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the frequent Biggie Smalls producer’s philanthropic work would include his 1994 New York City-established Daddy’s House Social Programs, an international foundation that provides education to the underprivileged and homeless.

9. When auto-tuning-favorite T-Pain isn’t in the booth cranking out hits for Jesse McCartney (“Body Language”) or Flo Rida (“Low”), the “Blame It (On the Alcohol),” the rhymer is certainly making a worldly impact with his digital foundation “If I Could Change the World.” The program, which gives any user the ability to produce a philanthropic idea or select a global charity of their choosing, has been made popular by aid of T-Pain’s recurring concert series “Come to the Crib,” as means to enhance charitable awareness.

8. Certain singles from Michael Jackson’s legendary “Scream” to Janet Jackson’s comeback-knockout “No Sleeep” would not be possible without the help of iconic music-making duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The non-stop reinventing pair have helmed a remarkable feat in captivating groundbreaking awareness for the medical support in treating AIDS, cancer and leukemia; effective enough for the two-man unit to receive a 1996 humanitarian accolade from the T.J. Martell Foundation and personal friend Janet Jackson.

7. Hip-hop superwoman Missy Elliott, who has produced for the likes of Beyoncé (“Signs”) and Madonna (“American Life–American Dream Remix”), is not a newbie when it comes to charitable occurrences. Among her most profound causes include her dedication to alleviate domestic abuse and AIDS cases by involvement in fundraising activities with organizations Break the Cycle and the MAC AIDS Fund (the former appointing Elliott as global spokesperson).

6. He’s the brains behind notorious headphone gear Beats by Dre, yet Dr. Dre has stamped his name outside the musical mogul world for the advocacy of a safer environment. Securing iconic production roles in Eminem’s “Hi, My Name Is Slim Shady” and Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair,” Dr. Dre has generously donated $1 million to organizations relieving the aftereffects of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina; moreover, Dre’s “Beats Electronics” division has helped create seasonal camps for African schoolchildren.

5. Enormously responsible for composing Mariah Carey’s Grammy-winning “We Belong Together” and Kris Kross’ party-thumping “Jump,” Jermaine Dupri favors in helping underprivileged youth and repairing national tragedies; showcasing his advocacy via his separate launched initiatives Hip-Hop 4 Humanity and The Jermaine Dupri Foundation; the former raising more than $25,000 in aid of 9/11 victims and the latter helping those victimized in Hurricane Katrina. Aside from producing chart-toppers, Dupri served as the perfect power source in 2001 for his remixing role in charitable “What’s Going On,” an anti-AIDS anthem featuring the philanthropic likes of Lil’ Kim and TLC.

4. Swizz Beatz, super-producer known for drafting hit records among Busta Rhymes (“Touch It”) and Whitney Houston (“Million Dollar Bill”), has voiced advocacy for the betterment of health; so passionate that he would be bestowed the title as New York City’s first ever Global Ambassador of Health and Hospitals Corporation. Additionally, Beatz has recorded charitable tunes (“Stranded [Haiti Mon Amour]”); collaborated with City of Hope for the battle against cancer; and launched various events in support of wife Alicia Keys’ anti-AIDS Keep a Child Alive foundation.

3. Innovation and futurism are always laced in the production sounds by freaky sensation Pharrell Williams, who holds an endless catalog of hits and a groundbreaking list of donative accomplishments. From assembling philanthropic numbers with Beyoncé to headlining global humanitarian concerts, the “Let’s Get Blown” producer has launched several astounding projects, such as the NASA-associated Pharrell Williams Resource Center and the globally-interactive “Happy Party” campaign, which acts in a form of a petition to urge global leaders in fixing climatic issues.

2. Though the mainstream hip-hop crowd have not been thoroughly introduced to Immortal Technique as of yet, the intensive “Dance with the Devil” spitter has been making favorable headlines regarding his independent hard-working philanthropic efforts pertaining to activities such as constructing orphanage centers, clinics and schools in war-ravaged Kabul, Afghanistan. One would assume that proceeds collected per an independent musician’s work would be utilized for further entertainment purposes, however the underground producer immediately discards that notion, effectively noting that profits gained from his music are utilized strictly for humanitarian projects, especially in work of constructing homes for the impoverished, like those hailing from Haiti.

1. Largely responsible for bringing Lady Gaga front and center to the spotlight with breakout number “Just Dance,” Akon continuously makes buzz around the world for his recent progress with initiative Akon Lighting Africa (ALA), in supplying electricity to an estimated 600 million African rural natives in need. With the charitable “Oh Africa” adding shine to his name, Akon’s initiative has already implemented solar street lights and home kits to over 14 African regions, and has moreover produced the Solar Academy to teach natives of how solar arrays are installed.

To an unaware audience, music producers endeavoring in “to go” genres seem like the last people you’d expect to make a charitable contribution, especially considering their busy schedules allotting studio time; but these ten producers manage to redefine that aspect and brush away any further misconception. In 2001, when loosely questioned on the nature of hip-hop producers participating in charities, rapper-turned-mogul Dr. Dre proclaimed: “…Money [isn’t donated] to get big recognition […] I did it to help, strictly just to help… a million dollars is the least I could do to help.”

Jeff Varner

Sources: The Huffington Post, Lubbock On, hinkProgress, HipHopDX, The Indie Spiritualist, The Independent, BORGEN, PRNewswire, NBC Bay Area, EBSCO, PRNewswire, CNN.com, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, Black Celebrity Giving, BET