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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

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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

Global_Citizen_Festival
The 2015 Global Citizen Festival seeks to spread awareness of world poverty through music. The concert takes place on September 26 on the Great Lawn in Central Park, New York City.

In 2000, countries around the world joined together to create the Millennium Development Goals, a kind of 15-year checklist for tackling world issues such as hunger, disease, lack of shelter, education and gender equality. For four years, the Global Citizen Festival has sought to engage citizens and world leaders with pressing world issues. This year, the concert aims to bring attention to the United Nations’ Global Goals, which are 17 new objectives for ending extreme poverty by 2030. World leaders from 193 countries will solidify these objectives in September.

Performers at the concert include Beyoncé, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Pearl Jam.

Beyoncé’s organization, Chime for Change, partners with the event. The group strives to empower, educate and protect women and girls around the world. Beyoncé hopes the concert will bring hundreds of initiatives that are dedicated to changing lives.

Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, agreed be the creative curator of the festival for the next 15 years, the same amount of time that the United Nations hopes to completely eradicate poverty.

English singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran says, “I look forward to sharing the stage with such an amazing lineup of artists in an effort to raise awareness, educate others and work toward the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. I truly believe it’s possible if we all work together.”

“People living on less than $1.50 a day deserve the opportunity to lift themselves up out of extreme poverty,” added Pearl Jam guitarist, Stone Gossard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rLHBQ282xE

Tickets to the concert are free. All that is required is a promise to take action against injustices around the world. Some of these actions could include sending emails to political leaders, signing petitions or making phone calls or sending tweets to senators.

The steps to earn tickets are called Action Journeys. By completing each action, participants are entered into a drawing to receive two tickets. After each drawing, new Action Journeys are opened. Not only will participants increase their chances of winning tickets by completing more Action Journeys, but they will also be increasing awareness of world issues.

The Global Citizen Festival will be targeting six essential world problems: girls and women, food and hunger, education, global health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and financing.

Chief executive of the Global Poverty Project, Hugh Evans, says, “The world has halved extreme poverty in the last 15 years, but to end it in the next 15, there’s a whole lot of things we need to make that a reality.”

To participate in the Action Journeys or to see more information, visit globalcitizen.org.

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: ArtsBeat, BBC, Cosmopolitan, Global Citizen, Rappler, Rolling Stone
Photo: Digital Trends

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Music has always been one of the most provocative and powerful mediums to promote advocacy and change.  From the protest folk of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, to the Civil Rights soul of Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield, to the politically poignant hip hop of The Roots and Mos Def, music engages us with the issues of our time on an emotional level.

Last week, some of music’s most well known figures joined together to release Songs for the Philippines on iTunes.  Stars both past and present are featured on the album, the proceeds of which will go solely to the Philippine Red Cross to aid in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

Packed with 39 songs (many of which are classics) and a price tag of $9.99, the album makes for a wonderful addition to your holiday shopping list.  Some of the artists included on the album are Bob Dylan, Beyonce, Eminem, The Beatles, Lady Gaga, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Earth Wind & Fire. Where else can you find such an eclectic mix?  The variety alone makes it a great purchase.

Benefit albums have become a staple for iTunes following natural disasters.  Songs for Japan was released in 2011 to support the victims of the tsunami in Japan.  Much like Songs for the Philippines, Songs for Japan featured a similar variety of artists ranging from John Lennon to U2 to Foo Fighters.  These benefit albums show how the music industry can stand united to support a greater cause.

Of course, that is not to suggest that the artists are randomly chosen.  “This brilliant collection is united by a message of hope and compassion,” according to the iTunes synopsis of Songs for the Philippines.  With titles such as “Hero,” “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” “Carry You Home,” and of course, “Let It Be,” it’s easy to see such themes.

Songs for the Philippines is a great way to show your support and compassion for the people of the Philippines.  Oh, and in the unlikely event that you already own all 39 songs on the collection, iTunes features a link to the American Red Cross’s donation site for Typhoon Haiyan relief right beside the album.  There is no reason not to contribute.

– Taylor Diamond

Sources: Huffington Post, Spin, iTunes
Photo: Straits Times

Musicians
Several popular musicians protest global poverty by writing protest songs about the issue. Stars such as Ed Sheeran, Mumford & Sons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Will.I.Am, Sting, Elvis Costello, and Green Day are among some of the artists who have joined the agit8 campaign to fight world hunger and poverty.

The agit8 campaign is an event that challenges leaders to stand up to fight poverty during the global G8 summit this year in Northern Ireland. The summit focuses on the world’s most pressing issues, and global leaders have a chance to speak up for issues they care about and feel should be addressed. The agit8 campaign is supported by the One Campaign, which was co-created by musician & activist Bono to help raise awareness about poverty and hunger problems around the world.

The One Campaign also works with filmmakers and actors to demonstrate through movies how protests have led to major change in the world. Music is another way to lead change, because it has the power to get many people involved. When fans learn about the causes their favorite artists support, they can instantly become more aware of global problems and learn how to take action. And with more people aware about the problems of the world, more people are supporting nonprofit organizations and charities to alleviate those problems.

Katie Brockman

Source Evening Express

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Africa produces some of the most brilliant artists, athletes, and activists worldwide.  From the media industry to the political stage, these African celebrities are working to improve lives.  The Borgen Project presents the top 10 African celebrities to follow.

1. Patricia Amira, Nigerian, TV Personality

Patricia Amira is a self-proclaimed “optimistic realist” and “closet artist.”  She is the “Oprah” of Africa and hosts one of the continent’s most popular talk shows.  The Patricia Show transcends national boundaries and identities.  The show focuses on achievements across Africa and aims to create social and cultural transformation. The Pan-African talk show is broadcasted in over 45 African countries and averages over 10 million viewers.  She currently serves as the Director of the Festival of African Fashion and Arts.  The festival encourages collaboration among designers and emphasizes the importance of artists.  Amira is also a spokesperson against human trafficking.

2. Nneka, Nigerian, Musician

Nneka is a soul musician of Nigerian-German descent.  Investigative journalism and philosophy inform her music, and she often writes about poverty, war, and and social justice issues.  Nneka emphasizes the importance of understanding balance and harmony.  “It’s important that you recognize yourself as part of the system, too, and that the only way we can make things work is by realizing we are part of the same entity,” Nneka said.

3. Didier Drogba, Ivorian, Soccer Player

Didier Drogba was a leading striker for England’s Chelsea football club and head captain of the Cote D’Ivoire national team.  His performance on the field is impressive, but he made headlines at the 2006 FIFA World Cup for something much greater.  Drogba begged on live television for a cease-fire on the Ivory Coast.  The warring factions subsided within one week.  The Telegraph reporter Alex Hayes noted that Drogba is “the face of his country; the symbol of a new, post-civil war Ivory Coast.”  He also created the Didier Drogba Foundation, a foundation “to provide financial and material support in both health and education to the African people.”  The foundation recently partnered with United Against Malaria (UAM) to help fight malaria.

4. Wole Soyinka, Nigerian, Playwright

Wole Soyinka is a playwright, author, and political activist from Nigeria.  Soyinka entered the political stage after lobbying for a cease-fire during Nigeria’s civil war.  “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism,” Soyinka said.  This led to his imprisonment for 22 months.  He was released in 1969, and he began publishing again.  Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986.  His novel The Interpreters analyzes the experiences of six different African intellectuals.

5. Neill Blomkamp, South African, Movie Director

Neill Blomkamp is a movie director known for his documentary, handheld cinema style.  He blends natural and computer-generated elements effortlessly.  Blomkamp co-wrote and directed District 9.  The film focused on extraterrestrial refugees in a South African slum.  The title derived from real events during the apartheid era at District Six, Cape Town. The film received international fame, and box office sales totaled $200 million.  Time magazine named Blomkamp one of the “100 Most Influential People of 2009.” 

6. Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan, Author

Binyavanga Wainaina founded the first literary magazine in East Africa, entitled Kwani?.  The magazine is known as “the most renown literary journal in sub-Saharan Africa.”  Wainaina created the magazine after winning the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing.  The Caine Prize is an annual literary award for the best original short story by an African writer.  He is known for authoring “How to Write About Africa.”  The short story is known as one of the most satirical pieces ever written about Africa.

 7. Genevieve Nnaji, Nigerian, Actress

Genevieve Nnaji skyrocketed from a middle class upbringing to Nollywood stardom.  She is one of the most popular African celebrities.  Nnaji grew up in Lagos, Nigeria as one of eight children.  Nnaji began her acting career at eight years old on Ripples, a Nigerian soap opera.  She is now one of Africa’s most popular actresses.  At only 32 years old, she has starred in over 80 feature films.  She is one of the best paid actresses in Nollywood—Nigeria’s feature film industry.   “I have always maintained that when they [Hollywood directors and actors] are ready for a young African woman to take part in a project that they will come looking for us,” Nnaji said.

8. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian, Writer

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of Africa’s leading contemporary authors.  She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun.  Adichie delivered a popular TED Talk after publishing The Thing around Your Neck, a collection of short stories.  She warns against judging a person or country based on limited information.  “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story,” Adichie said.  Nigerian history and tragedies inspire her literature.  She is one of the most notable authors of disaporan literature.

9. Rokia Traoré, Malian, Musician

Rokia Traoré became famous in 1997 with the release of her first album Mouneissa.  Malian singer Ali Farka Touré helped Traoré develop her sound, and she later earned “Best African Discovery” from the Radio France Internationale.  Traoré’s father was a Malian Diplomat, and she traveled extensively as a child.  Her travels in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France, and Belgium influenced her music.  Traoré joined the 30 Songs/30 Days campaign in September 2012.  The campaign supported the Half the Sky movement, based on the book by the same name.  The movement focuses on sex trafficking, sexual violence, and female education.

10. Alek Wek, Sudanese, Supermodel

Alex Wek is a supermodel, fashion designer, and political activist.  Wek fled Sudan at the age of 14 to escape the civil war. She moved to London, England with her parents and eight siblings and was later discovered at an outdoor market.  Ford Models, one of the world’s top modeling agencies, signed her in 1996.  By 1997, she was the first African model to appear on the cover of Elle magazine.  Wek continues to model but is also a member of the U.S. Committee for Refugees’ Advisory Council.  Wek works with World Vision to combat AIDS.  She is also an ambassador for Doctors Without Borders in Sudan.  She belongs to the Dinka ethnic group

– Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: Forbes