When it comes to political protest, social commentary, and bringing people together, there are few, if any, tools in this world that are more effective than music.
Following the election in November, as we all tried to make sense of what happened and prepare for the road ahead, artists around the world took to their instruments to speak out against hate and injustice, express their emotions, and ultimately, empower themselves and their listeners through song.
The days leading up to the inauguration and the historic Women’s Marches taking place across the world this weekend have seen a particular rush of new music, as artists such as Arcade Fire with legendary singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, Moby, Gorillaz, and Fiona Apple, and Ruby Amanfu each released songs of defiance and resistance.
Taking it one step further, a number of artists and record labels are releasing protest songs in combination fundraising efforts to spread awareness and raise money for progressive causes and organizations that are at immediate risk due to the new administration.
Here are a few selections of what is sure to be an ongoing artistic movement throughout the next four years and beyond:
Rough Trade Records and Bandcamp teamed up for this subscription series that (as the title suggests) reveals one new song daily for 90 days, with the aim to raise money for the Southern Poverty Law Center and help people work through their Trump-related stress. Among the artists that have already released music are Juliana Hatfield, Jennifer O’Connor, and Rachel Grimes.
Curated by Quasi’s Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes, Battle Hymns is a protest compilation raising awareness and funds for three organizations: Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and 350.org. The album features previously unreleased music from Mary Timony, Katie Harkin, Rebecca Gates, and Weiss’ Sleater-Kinney bandmates Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, among many other notable indie musicians and is available on a pay-what-you-want basis through Quasi’s website.
38 artists including Lisa Prank, Laura Stevenson, and Swanning (our own managing editor Cynthia Schemmer!) have recorded cover songs for this compilation benefiting the ACLU.
The singer-songwriter and Marriages guitarist/vocalist has released ““Forever, as the Setting Son” via Bandcamp. 100% of proceeds for the song (on a “donate what you want” basis” will benefit Planned Parenthood. “I find myself filled with grief these days, similar to that expressed in the song, over many of the issues we as humans, as tenants of the Earth, will face in the coming era. While I am unable to join the marches set to take place all over the U.S. on Saturday, I would like to offer this song and will be donating all the proceeds to Planned Parenthood,” she said in the statement accompanying the release.
The Los Angeles based group led by Guy Blakeslee released the protest song “Not Going to Say Your Name” (about you-know-who). All proceeds from sales via Bandcamp, Thrill Jockey, Spotify, iTunes and Youtube will benefit Planned Parenthood. In a press statement, Blakeslee said, “I decided to use the song to benefit PP because one of the things that is so shocking about the election result is that it sends such a negative message to women and girls… It’s the least I could do—for all of the women in the world, in my life, and especially for my mother—to fight back and make a clear statement that we will not accept this backwards agenda.”
Potty Mouth, Allison Weiss, and Answering Machine are among the artists who will appear on “Music For All of Us: A Compilation to Benefit the ACLU.” Curated by John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday, the album also features music from politically-outspoken artists including Anti-Flag, Brendan Kelley (Lawrence Arms), and Dead Heavens featuring Walter Schreifels is available to pre-order now. 100% of proceeds will benefit the ACLU.
This compilation features a cross section of musical styles including post-rock, punk, hip hop and more from independent artists including Mannequin Pussy, Birthing Hips, Super Unison, among others. Proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood.