music or social change, or both?

Featured, News Sep 22, 2010 20 Comments

I’ve been asking friends lately, what their first thoughts are when I mention music and social change? For me the first thought is artists from my parents generation: The Beatles, Peete Seeger, James Brown, Joni Mitchell and the slew of other artists from that era that clearly identified themselves as agents of social change through music. One friend of mine said that she thinks of hip hop as the genre that represents social change and immediately started ranting to me about some documentary film she had seen where hip hop had started an underground revolution in Brazil. Another friend told me she thought of how certain pop artists negatively affect the social climate by emphasizing materialism or body image or violence. A third friend half sarcastically told me that he simply thought of Green Day.  Interesting and varied reactions, I mused, while at the same time maintaining an awareness of the fact that I was asking the opinion of people from very similar backgrounds; All white, all in their twenties, all liberal arts school educated and all products of small town New England living.  I began to wonder what if I offered this same question to people of different cultures, race and age? What would be their immediate reaction?  Is a music festival dedicated to a social message an outdated hippy dippy concept, or an effective way to reach people? Have social issues been lost on today’s music culture, or is it simply presented in a different package? Is the globalization of music and musical genres creating international understanding, or international misunderstanding through a lack of context and tradition?  What do you associate with music and social change? I present these questions in hopes of receiving a varied and global response that will help difrent: in our mission to modernize the face of music as an agent of social change. Allegra