Humanitarian singers
A remarkable number of singers spend time fighting poverty between recording sessions and tours. In particular, four humanitarian singers made an especially large impact through both creating and supporting various foundations.


Shakira gained worldwide fame for her pop music with a Latin flair. However, she also leads a philanthropic career outside of music.

The artist primarily focuses on universal education and early childhood development. She founded the Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) Foundation that looks to “bring education to every child in the world.”

Shakira also supports the ONE Campaign, which mobilizes individuals to do their part to end extreme poverty.

Another campaign she promotes and supports is Habitat for Humanity. This organization strives to give everyone in the world adequate housing.


Bono is not only the lead singer of the world-renowned band U2, but he is also well known for his humanitarian efforts. He has helped fight poverty by supporting and creating multiple campaigns and projects.

These include the ONE Campaign and (RED), which advocates for an AIDS-free globe. Bono also supports EDUN, which encourages trade between impoverished countries in order to boost their economies.

In addition, he often participates in fundraising concerts to help raise money for these foundations and to promote important causes.

Elton John

Don’t let the sun go down on Elton John: he’s ready to change the world. The well-known singer and songwriter is also a supporter of the quest to eliminate AIDS around the world.

He created the Elton John AIDS Foundation in order to help reduce the AIDS epidemic. Consequently, his foundation has raised over $125 million, which has gone to support 55 different countries. This support promotes education prevention and provides services to those in need.

He also supports other foundations, such as AIDS LIFE, World AIDS Day and War Child.

Alicia Keys

“No One” can deny Alicia Keys’ contributions toward fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This singer also uses her powerhouse singing voice to speak for the unheard individuals.

She co-founded Keep a Child Alive, which focuses on the millions of children that die from AIDS in places where medical treatment is sub-par or unavailable. This foundation offers a range of services, including diagnostic testing and health care training.

In addition, Keys has traveled to Uganda, Kenya and South Africa to speak to those who have lost their parents to the deadly disease. She also raised money for the charity by offering a private concert as a prize in an auction.

In an interview with Everyday Health, Keys eloquently says, “Helping keep a child or mother or father or brother or sister alive means turning the worst epidemic of our lifetime into the greatest victory of our generation.”

Other Notable Humanitarian Singers

In addition, a coalition of humanitarian singers have all joined Water Now’s quest to provide people in need with clean water. These artists include Lady Gaga, Pitbull, Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine, Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, Jennifer Hudson, 5 Seconds of Summer and Justin Bieber.

With the help of Watermill Express, every time a gallon of water is purchased at one of the 1,300 kiosks dispensed around the United States, a gallon of clean water is donated on behalf of the buyer to a person in need in a developing country.

Humanitarian singers and celebrities continue to help raise money and awareness for global issues. All of the foundations they support and create are easy to find and donate to thanks to their philanthropic publicity.

Casey Marx

Photo: Shakira

John_Oliver“That dress is worth four dollars and ninety five cents. Think about that. That means you could take a five dollar bill, scotch tape it over your genitals, and you’d be wearing a more expensive piece of clothing.”

The audience bursts into laughter. However, while John Oliver is all about getting laughs on his show “Last Week Tonight,” when it comes to blending the comedian and the activist, he’s not joking around.

The above quote is from a segment on sweatshops in the clothing industry, particularly modern, cheaper retailers.

“It seems sweatshops aren’t one of those 90s problems we got rid of like Donnie Wahlberg,” Oliver said. “They’re more like one of those 90s problems we’re still dealing with, like Mark Wahlberg.”

Oliver’s use of his comedic platform as a springboard for his activism makes sense. Prior to his television show’s launch, Oliver was known for his role as a correspondent on “Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show,” and famously filled in for the beloved host in June of 2013, while Stewart was overseas filming his directorial debut.

The difference between Stewart and Oliver’s areas of focus is subtle but significant. Stewart focuses on news and current events, approaching them with a fresh spin, an important trait in a daily program. Oliver, on the other hand, focuses on issues. From food waste, which Oliver compares to Rascall Flatts in that “it can fill a surprising number of stadiums even though many people consider it complete garbage,” to tobacco giant Phillip Morris International threatening to sue Togo, a country with a GDP of just 4.3 billion dollars (“when your GDP is only a couple of billion more than the box office of Avatar, a protracted legal case is not really what you need.”) Oliver takes on major topics not just for laughs, but for information.

What is also unique about Oliver is how he encourages his audience to get involved. In his segment on the tobacco industry, for instance, Oliver christened “Jeff the diseased lung in a cowboy hat” as the new face of Marlboro. Oliver spread t-shirts of the diseased lung in Togo and billboards in Uruguay. Oliver also encouraged his audience to support the new icon, which mocked the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics, particularly in the developing world. It is through this type of culture jamming that Oliver achieves the power of comedy as a medium that influences social change.

Ultimately, “Last Week Tonight” could have been another late night television show, perhaps made a bit edgier due to its placement on HBO. But due to John Oliver’s social activism and experience gained while working with the great Jon Stewart, the show has become an informative springboard for activism, something with great impact on both its audience and the world at large.

Andrew Michaels

Sources: Last Week Tonight: Fashion, Last Week Tonight: Food Waste, Last Week Tonight: Tobacco, Splitsider
Photo: HBO – Last Week Tonight

The Little Market is making a big difference. A fair trade project based in Los Angeles, the online company works with artisans around the world, making handcrafted goods available to all and supplying a living wage to the artisans that create them.

Co-founded by fashion designer Lauren Conrad and Human Rights Watch member Hannah Skvarla in 2013, the Little Market “seeks to empower women artisans to rise above poverty and support their families”. The company is committed to building self-sufficient, economically independent women in impoverished countries around the world.

The Little Market sells a variety of handmade goods, from home décor and kitchen necessities to backpacks and bracelets. Conrad and Skvarla visit local markets in countries such as Kenya, Bolivia, India and Peru to gain inspiration, insight and appreciation for the talent, time and treasures provided by the artisans.

In order to benefit the artisans and themselves, the company searches for items with the potential to succeed in the U.S. market.

This month, The Little Market began selling olive wood products from Le Souk Olivique, an olive wood studio in Tunisia. Founded in 2013, Le Souk provides finely crafted wooden kitchen tools, including basic utensils, salad bowls and cutting boards.

The Tunisian company treats its artisans very well, setting payment above minimum wage and providing healthcare and social security payments. Le Souk will soon receive Tunisia’s Fair Trade certification.

The beautifully handcrafted kitchen tools sell at The Little Market for $12 to $44, depending on the type and size of the object. They are all made with olive wood.

Making olive wood products, however, is an intricate and time-consuming process. The raw wood must initially dry outside for a year before cutting and sanding the pieces to create a wood product fit for a kitchen.

Conrad and Skvarla expressed excitement about carrying this new line of products, available now on the company website. The Little Market has served as a catalyst in the sale of handmade goods from around the world, including those of Le Souk. As website sales increase, the demand for more products also increases, resulting in a need for more employees and thus creating more jobs for more artisans around the world, lifting many out of poverty.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: LA Times, The Little Market 1, The Little Market 2
Photo: Style News

Here is a list of the top 10 celebrities from Africa. They all put their fame to good use to help people in need who are from their hometowns and throughout Africa.

1. Chinua Achebe —  Nigerian Novelist, Publisher and Educator

Achebe was born in Nigeria on November 16, 1930. He recently died at the age of 82 on March 21, 2013. He taught at different universities in America and is known for his book, “Things Fall Apart,” one of his earlier pieces of writings that was published in 1958. “Things Fall Apart” is what led him to be called the “patriarch of the African novel.” Many of his writing pieces go back to his Nigerian roots.

2. Youssou N’dour — Senegalese Musician

N’dour was born in 1959 in Dakar, Senegal. His most popular music came out in the late 1980s and 1990s. In 2004, the Rolling Stone Magazine wrote that he was “perhaps the most famous singer alive.” N’dour had the tendency to mix pop and rock with sabar, which is the traditional dance music of Senegal. N’dour has toured with stars like Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman and Dido. He has been the subject of two award-winning films: “Retour à Gorée” and “Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love.” He also owns a night club, a radio station and a television station. N’dour is a UNICEF ambassador to help bring an end to the humanitarian crisis in the horn of Africa.

3. Didier Drogba — Ivorian Soccer Player

Drogba is a world-pronounced soccer player, but he is most well-known for helping end war during the civil war in Cote D’Ivoire. Drogba fell to his knees on live television after his team qualified for the World Cup, pleading that Cote D’Ivoire give up the war, and it worked. In 2009 he donated $5 million to help with the construction of a hospital in his hometown of Abidjan.

4. Angelique Kidjo — Beninoise Musician

Kidjo is a Grammy award-winning musician. She has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Josh Groban and Carlos Santana. Kidjo owns her own nonprofit organization, Batonga Foundation, which is based in Washington. It promotes and funds education for African girls. She is also a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador.

5. Akon — Senegalese Musician

Akon has sold millions of his three studio-recorded albums. He co-owns a record label called Kon Live that helped get Lady Gaga and T-Pain’s career started. He also owns Konvict clothing, and he founded Konfidence Foundation, which promotes education and health causes in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa.

6. Wole Soyinka — Nigerian Playwright

In 1986, Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Soyinka has produced “The Lion and the Jewel,” “A Dance of the Forests,” “The Strong Breed” and 17 other plays.

7. Salif Keita — Malian Musician

Keita was denied by his family because he decided to pursue his career as a musician, which was considered beneath his noble family’s status. He was banished when he was 18 years old because of the superstition that albinos were bad luck. His latest album was decimated to stop discrimination against albinos in Africa and the rest of the world.

8. Yvonne Chaka Chaka — South African Musician

Chaka Chaka is known as the “Princess of Africa.” She was known for her girly pop music. She now devotes her time to her work as a United Nations Goodwill ambassador and representative of Africa.

9. Oumou Sangare — Malian Musician

Sangare often performed music known as Wassoulou. Wassoulou is often sung by women. This music consists of lyrics having to do with women’s rights issues and feminism. Sangare is a United Nations Goodwill ambassador and was named an official ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2003.

10. Femi Kuti — Nigerian Musician

Kuti uses his music to downsize corruption, poverty and other socioeconomic issues prevalent in Nigeria and Africa through his lyrics. In his album, “Fight to Win” (which sold over 500,000 copies,) he collaborated with Common, Most Def and Jaguar Fight.

— Priscilla Rodarte
Sources: All Music, Biography, Forbes, NY Times
Photo: The Economist

George Clooney is going on a date that someone paid over one million dollars for. Think that someone is getting one million dollars worth of wine and steak? Think again.

The money paid for the date with the eternal Hollywood Bachelor is going to Sudan, and no, that is not where the date is taking place. The date was part of a raffle auction that was launched on the internet, and the winner is a single-mom with an 8 year old daughter.

The winner gets to attend the premiere of The Monuments Men movie with George Clooney on the red carpet in New York City, and the one-plus million dollars spent on raffle tickets for the date goes to the Satellite Sentinel Project.

The Satellite Sentinel Project is a reconnaissance operation that observes Sudan from a satellite and reveals crimes against humanity and other violent actions like the decades-old genocide in Darfur.

Clooney has been recorded saying the cost of the Satellite Project is around three million dollars, just to operate the image monitoring. Clooney has given his payments for international advertisements to help fund the Satellite monitoring process. The satellite captures images of Sudan from three hundred miles above the earth and watches war criminals and leaders of genocide in their home territory and beyond.

The star works closely with John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project.

The Enough Project, like the Sentinel Satellite Project, is a movement to stop violence and acts of terror and or genocide in Sudan. Prendergast has worked under the Clinton Administration, two different members of Congress, UNICEF, the U.S. Institute of Peace and more according to the Enough Project’s records.

He seems more than qualified to take part in the Sentinel Satellite Project. Preventing innocent citizens from horrible acts of mass terror and killing is something Prendergast has been working on for years.

Clooney became friends with Prendergast when he began working on the board of Not On Our Watch, an organization started by Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt. The two thought up the Satellite project as a way to turn the tables on warlords in Sudan. Clooney would become the paparazzi to the leaders of oppression, spreading their business all over the internet. Holding these types of corrupt leaders responsible in the public eye is the first step to getting the rest of the world involved.

With high-profile celebrities like George Clooney calling out criminals for their actions, it will be even more difficult for evil-doers to hide from foreign interference and consequences.

– Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: SF Gate, Satellite Sentinel Project, The Enough Project
Photo: Design Trend