Top 5 Most Successful Benefit Concerts of 2013

When natural disasters strike, many ordinary people are sympathetic to the hardships caused by Mother Nature’s turmoil. Wallets are opened, and contributions are made to bolster recovery efforts and assist victims. To solicit donations on a large scale, benefit concerts are organized, and celebrities are brought in to perform. World economic and social problems also draw attention, as seen by the billions of spectators during the Live Earth series and Live 8 series of benefit concerts. Celebrities, such as comedians or actors, may become spokespersons for a cause; however, celebrity musicians are the ones who really pack a wallop when it comes to getting the masses to donate funds. Famous musicians who perform benefit concerts have raised millions of dollars for worthy causes and will continue to do so. Thousands of fans, inspired by their favorite musician celebrities, bond together and work to accomplish the twin goals of raising awareness and cash for a particular cause. In Top 5 Most Successful Benefit Concerts of 2013 2013, five notable benefit concerts have been held:

Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert

toby keith

Toby Keith, a country music performer, organized a sold-out concert to benefit the victims of a series of tornadoes that swept through an Oklahoma City suburb on May 20, 2013. 24 people died when a tornado’s 17-mile trek created destruction and misery. The July 6, 2013 concert included performers Garth Brooks, Krystal Keith, Kellie Coffey, Wade Hayes, Carrie Underwood (via satellite), Mel Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Sammy Hagar, John Anderson, and Ronnie Dunn. Sponsors Ford Trucks, Verizon Wireless, Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives, and Wal-Mart helped defray costs. Text-to-donate capability was provided by Verizon wireless before, during, and after the concert. Texts were limited to 5 per phone, with each text donating $10.

The concert made history, as approximately 60,000 people attended the concert, making it the largest number of paid attendees for an event at the stadium. The concert was televised, and viewers made pledges to contribute, as well. The concert raised $ 2 million dollars and the proceeds were donated directly to the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund.

Farm Aid 2013

farm aid

In America, Farm Aid is the longest-running concert series. It has raised more than $43 million to help farmers succeed in their livelihood, and also teaches millions about the Good Food Movement (emphasizing choosing food that is local, organic, humanely-raised, and from a family farm). The sold-out September 21, 2013 concert performers included John Mellenncamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, Neil Young, Tim Reynolds, Amos Lee, Jack Johnson, Musgraves, Jamey Johnson, Pegi Young & The Survivors, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Carlene Carter, Bahamas, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Jesse Lenat, Sasha Dobson, The Blackwood Quartet, and Insects vs. Robots. 25,000 fans attended the concert, which could also be seen on a webcast, and listened to on Willie Nelson’s SiriusXM channel. Attendees engaged in many hands-on farm and food activities, games, art project, quizzes, and contests.

Global Citizen Festival Concert

global poverty project

The Global Poverty Project urges world leaders at the United Nations to do more about raising the living standards among the world’s poor. Hugh Evans, the founder and chief executive of the charity, states, “Our hope and our desire is that citizens will get deeply involved with our major policy issues.” The concert is intended to apply pressure to industrialized nations to allocate one tenth of their foreign aid budgets to education, and give support to programs empowering girls and women in third world countries. They are lobbying U.N. health officials to provide more basic vaccines to children in under-developed countries, and place thousands of new health workers in Sub-Saharan Africa. They also plan to lobby for community health workers in Africa to be provided free cell phones and data lines.

The September 28, 2013 Global Citizen Festival Concert featured Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder, and Kings of Leon. Unlike most benefit concerts, the end goal of this concert was not money, but raising the public’s consciousness and garnering positioning as a lobbying tool. On that note, approximately 54,000 tickets were given away, and 6,000 tickets were sold to cover expenses.

2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Charity Concert

mariah carey

On July 13, 2013, Mariah Carey performed with the New York Philharmonic during Major League Baseball’s All-Star Charity Concert. The Grammy-award winning singer performed “My All,” “Looking In,” “Beautiful,” and “Hero,” 4 of her many hit songs. Just a week before, Mariah sustained multiple injuries while filming a music video. Concert goers proclaim her dazzling performance was not diminished despite her cracked rib, bruises, and dislocated shoulder. Mariah’s slings were covered in feathers and looked elegant in evening gowns with matching slings to help hide her injuries. The concert was free to attendees, and MLB donated $1 million dollars to benefit Superstorm Sandy victims. As part of the Midsummer Classic, MLB donated $4 million for other national and local charities.

Boston Strong Concert

carole king

Victims of the Boston Marthon bombings were benefited by the Boston Strong Concert, which raised $2 million from ticket sales, retail, and concessions. Performers at the sold-out show included Aerosmith, Dropkick Murphys, Boston, Boyz II Men, Jason Aldean, James, Taylor, Carole King, Bell Biv Devoe, Richard Blanco, The J. Geils Band, Steve Sweeney, Jimmy Buffett, Lenny Clarke, Extreme, Steven Wright, and New Kids On the Block.

The theme song that drew together the performers and attendees was “Come Together” by the Beatles.  The Concert was broadcast June 29 without commercial interruptions, and viewers were given the opportunity to donate during the broadcast.

The natural and man-made disasters of 2013 have certainly touched the hearts of many celebrities and compelled them to use their recognition and talent to garner support for worthy causes. Critics say celebrities are performing to bolster their public image. While that may be partly true, the fact remains that benefit concerts raise much-needed funds for victims of disasters all over the world. Using one’s celebrity status for a worthy cause is an honorable, noble purpose.

Dave Matthews, Conservationist

dave matthewsConcern about the environment has rapidly increased over the past two decades, becoming a common theme among people from many different economic and cultural backgrounds. Not a few celebrities share this passion, both using their popularity to encourage massive participation in activities and discussions and contributing their own time and resources to this cause.

Even with so many public figures adding their voices to the chorus, Dave Matthews stands out as a particularly active and dedicated example. Using his hugely popular success of The Dave Matthews Band on the music scene, he has tirelessly worked as an advocate for conservation efforts and contributed large sums to peacefully proactive environmentalist groups.

A Beginning: The Band with a Cause

The South African wordsmith and his eclectic band of talented musicians attained notoriety in 1994 with the release of the wildly popular album, Under the Table and Dreaming. Their meteoric rise to success brought a level of attention to the musicians, who have worked tirelessly to redistribute a portion of their profits in the name of worthy causes. Since 1999, the band itself has participated in the Green Music Group through their own Bama Works Fund, donating a total of $8.5 million to charities with diverse aims ranging from environmental concerns to disadvantaged youth, arts and humanities programs, and the needs of the disabled.

They further establish their commitment to proactive environmentalism by practicing what they preach while on tour. They participate in a greening program that is constantly drawing increasing amounts of support. Band members eat locally and reduce waste no matter where they are. Their vehicles run on biodiesel, and the Bama Green Eco-Village hosts more than 1,700 environmental awareness groups in order to spread consciousness to and encourage commitment of their broad base of fans. Perhaps most amazing is that, through this intense and dedicated effort, the band has managed to offset the carbon footprint of their entire touring career—a total of 101,320 tons of carbon dioxide.

On His Own Terms

While Dave certainly isn’t alone in his efforts, and has given due credit to his supportive and equally concerned band mates and fans, he also exhibits a personal devotion to his cause of choice. Since 2009, he’s been an active member of the Wilderness Society’s Governing Council. Founded in 1935, the Wilderness Society is dedicated to conservation efforts that preserve the natural beauty and utility of America’s wild spaces and lands held in public trust. He voiced concerns about the peril that places such as Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Washington State’s Alpine Lakes region of the North Cascades face from the depredations of industrialized society.

Because he is an active lover of nature and often hikes and camps in his spare time, his championing of the environmental cause through the Wilderness Society is far from abstract. He enacts a dedication to the preservation of natural spaces as a resource, to be responsibly enjoyed by all and protected from destruction by both myopic business interests and individual carelessness. This sort of long view and wider perspective is something he encourages everyone to develop, because once our Dreaming Trees die, there will be no bringing them back to life.

25 Green Musicians and Bands

Artists have always had a reputation for leading the way when it comes to social issues, and today’s artists are no exception. Musicians have found a multitude of ways to limit their impact on the globe while bringing an environmental message to millions of people. So many modern performers are lending their talent now to this issue that it cannot be possible to detail all of their amazing work, but here are just a few examples to begin with.


Image Source

In 1997, the band created the environmental organization the Waterwheel Foundation which supports selected non-profits from each city the band performs in. Proceeds are taken from donations, as well as sales of merchandise bearing their logo. In its fifteen year history, the foundation has donated over half a million dollars to more than 300 groups nationwide. Each non-profit group is selected by its involvement with social services, with a focus on environmental causes such as urban gardening, clean water, and land conservation. In addition, the band also created the Green Crew, in which volunteers clean up after each show. Read more about Phish’s environmental efforts.

Alanis Morissette


Image Source

Morisette became a vegan in 2008. This impacted her outlook on many social issues including the environment. She has narrated several shows on PBS that target environmental change and education such as 2009’s “The Great Change.” Along with many other well known musicians, she has joined the group REVERB, which monitors and helps limit the impact on the environment that artists have while touring. She has also openly opposed US oil companies drilling in Alaska.



Image Source

Over the years, Coldplay has continuously been quite vocal about their beliefs on environmental protection as well as fair trade, using the stage as a promotional platform. Recently, the band partnered with ClientEarth, a group that enforces environmental laws throughout different countries, working with local governments and local green groups. The band has also pioneered strategies such as carbon neutral CDs and tree planting in areas that struggle economically. Read more about Coldplay’s environmental efforts.



Image Source

In 2009, Moby performed a free show in MTV Europe’s “Campaign to Stop,” which targets climate change awareness amongst people ages 15-34. Moby also became visibly involved with Al Gore during his production of the environmentally conscious movie “An Inconvenient Truth”. This article talks about Moby’s animal rights efforts.

John Legend


Image Source

The singer has gone the extra mile to make all his tours as green as possible. Beginning in 2009, he teamed up with REVERB, a non-profit organization that has helped him keep his tours as environmentally friendly as possible, getting fans involved with things like carpooling. His website includes other tips for concert goers on how to help out, giving prize incentives. He was also part of President Obama’s Green Inaugural Ball which was held to promote the president’s support of sustainable energy use. Read more about his environmental efforts here.

Thom Yorke


Image Source

Thom Yorke, the lead singer for the band Radiohead, has been involved with several efforts to bring awareness to the changing environment. His group is known for promoting as many environmentally conscious actions as possible while on tour, including using biofuel on tour buses. They also try to get their fans and concert goers involved in their efforts by playing shows where the venues are supported by public transportation. In 2009, Yorke attended the UN conference for climate change in Copenhagen. More on his work with the environment here.

Sheryl Crow


Image Source

Crow, like so many other artists, has found ways to limit her carbon footprint by refining her tour practices. Reusable water bottles have been used by the crew and her group has developed the use of compostable materials when possible. She estimates that she has removed more than one million pounds of CO2 through recent efforts to make her music sustainable.



Image Source

The lead singer for the band U2 has long been outspoken for the causes he believes in which include many environmental issues; he even drives a car which runs on ethanol. Bono has also developed a clothing line called EDUN, which promotes fair working conditions for its employees while also being conscious of the local environment. The entire band has been active with the group Greenpeace, and together they protested a nuclear power plant that was scheduled to open in England.

Linkin Park


Image Source

The group is a part of Music for Relief, an organization whose cited mission is to support disaster relief and reduce global warming. They have joined forces with Habitat for Humanity to make green housing accessible to those who would otherwise have no place to live. The band is also bringing awareness to deforestation by helping groups such as American Forests Global ReLeaf Program.

Michael Franti


Image Source

The lead vocalist for the band Spearhead, Michael Franti feels called to fight against social injustice and to champion environmental issues. As is common with many bands these days, Franti is vigilant about going as green as possible while touring. This includes using biodiesel fuel, and condemning the use of plastic water bottles. Spearhead played at President Obama’s Green Inaugural Ball in 2008. He is also a member of Rock the Earth, an organization that brings awareness and educates about environmental concerns.

Willie Nelson


Perhaps the most well known environmentally conscious musician of recent times is Willie Nelson. He famously made his own brand of fuel, known as BioWillie which is made mostly of soy beans. It was twenty-seven years ago that Nelson helped begin Farm Aid, a yearly concert from which most proceeds go to American, family owned farms promoting local, organic and healthy foods. He is also a big proponent of using hemp for fuel and clothes. Read more about his efforts here.

Arcade Fire


Image Source

For some acts, words are as loud as actions. The Arcade Fire has directly addressed the growing concern over urban sprawl in their music as they sing, “Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains, and there’s no end in sight, I need the darkness someone please cut the lights.” The Canadian band also recently joined forces with REVERB to decrease the amount of waste produced during their concerts and while on tour.

Norah Jones


Image Source

As with so many touring outfits, the traveling entourage that is necessary to put on the show for Norah Jones and company has a hefty carbon footprint. Jones benefits from the services of REVERB; the company helps her find avenues for more efficient gigging. This simple act of awareness is often the most important step towards a greener lifestyle.

Dave Mathews Band


Image Source

In the green arena, this group has outdone itself nearly every time it has hit the road. Dave Mathews has experimented with biodiesel for touring vehicles and often looks for ways to make his merchandise environmentally friendly. Using these and other methods, such as carbon offsetting practices to reduce the impact of touring, the band has reduced their carbon footprint by nearly 3 million pounds of CO2. Expect more eco-innovation from these environmental champions as they push the envelope with carpooling and an eco-village for fans of the band.

Neil Young


Image Source

Young was one of the very first to use and promote biodiesel as an alternative fuel source. He once had each of his seventeen vehicles on tour using fuel made mainly from soy beans and vegetable oil. He has sung about people’s negative impact on the earth since the 1970s, when he released the song “Vampire Blues.”

Bonnie Raitt


Image Source

This rocker has not only been an activist for the environment herself, but helps to inspire and recognize others who have done the same. In 2002, Raitt held a Green Highway tour, a concert which spread the message of alternative energy sources. In her tours, she has eco-villages set up with examples and information given out to concert goers to help spread the word. She also co-founded the Musicians United for Safe Energy Group, which fights nuclear power usage.

Jack Johnson


Image Source

Johnson owns the building housing Brushfire Records, which is made out of eco-friendly materials from top to bottom. Not only are there solar panels on top of the roof, but there are blue jeans used as insulation inside the walls. The covers of all CDs produced there use only recycled paper. Hailing from Hawaii, he helped to develop an organization there which educates people on how to be environmentally active in their everyday lives.

KT Tunstall


Image Source

Tunstall has worked on bringing environmental issues to the forefront since her debut album in 2004. She also practices what she preaches, having planted over 1,500 trees in her native Scotland. She also works with the Carbon Neutral Company, a group that keeps track of one’s use of electricity and fuel which she monitors closely while she is on tour.

Cloud Cult


Image Source

This band of indie rockers truly stands out among the eco-crowd. They have gone out of their way to make sure that their products are as eco-friendly as possible. Cloud Cult begins with the packaging of their CDs, using repurposed cases of jewelry. They even created their own record company, Earthology, which utilizes geothermal sources of renewable energy.

Pearl Jam


Image Source

The old school outfit helped begin the Carbon Portfolio Strategy which teaches children about environmental issues. Pearl Jam has donated their time, but they have also donated their financial resources to help foster awareness about renewable energy uses as well as climate change concerns.

The Roots


Image Source

The house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has long been an advocate for the environment. These patrons of mother earth work with many organizations such as PETA, Organix, the Green Music Group and Global Inheritance to promote awareness on many different environmental issues. The group also works with REVERB to ensure that their concerts and tours are as green as possible.

Green Day


Image Source

This mainstay punk band has a name quite suited for an environmental group that has been very active on the green front. They have been heavily involved in efforts to promote alternative energy as opposed to more traditional fossil fuel consumption.

Barenaked Ladies


Image Source

This Canadian band was one of the first to promote the use of alternative fuel in to limit the impact of constant touring. With the help of companies like REVERB, the group has incorporated organic food into its routine fare and embraced biodegradable materials whenever possible. Repurposing items, like broken guitar strings as jewelry, is only one of the innovative ways the band has tried to recycle.



Image Source

The members of Guster take environmentalism very seriously. The activism of the band is perhaps best demonstrated in guitarist Adam Gardner’s creation of the non-profit company REVERB. This consulting operation is responsible for many of the sweeping changes seen in the music community in recent years. Few artists have done as much to raise awareness for the modern environmental movement.

Don Henley


Image Source

A former member and founder of The Eagles, Henley has taken on the challenges of land preservation. The mission closet to his heart is the Walden Woods Project, where he has worked for the past 20 years on saving the land where Henry David Thoreau lived and worked. He also began the Caddo Lake Institute which raises money for research on ecology. Through this effort he has managed to protect 26,000 acres of wetland in his home state of Texas.

Willie Nelson: Peace Loving Environmentalist

Few country music stars are as well known as Willie Nelson. Willie is not only known for the chart-topping music he has been making since the 1960s, but also for his movie roles and as an environmentalist and top-notch supporter of our farmers. On top of winning nearly every award you can possibly win for country music, he is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He has branded his own biodiesel fuel and created Farm Aid, a non-profit organization that lends a hand to farmers in need. No one is as well known for environmental activism than Willie Nelson.

Biodiesel is an environmentally friendly alternative to regular diesel fuel for vehicles. It is made with renewable resources such as vegetable oil or soy beans and is clean burning, leaving less pollution in the air than regular diesel fuel and a cleaner engine. Nelson’s wife bought a car that was powered by biofuel which sparked Nelson’s interest. His tour bus and trucks have run on biofuel for years now and he talks to truckers weekly through XM satellite radio about the benefits of switching to biofuel in their trucks. The outcome has been cleaner running engines and less air pollution. This alternative fuel also helps keep our farmers thriving. Willie didn’t stop there, though. He founded “Willie Nelson’s Biodiesel,” which manufactures BioWillie, Nelson’s own brand of biofuel. BioWillie is being made available at more and more truck stops around the United States.

Part of Willie’s interest in biodiesel fuel comes from his love for farmers. If we can grow all of our own resources, we can keep our farmers in business and quit paying to import all of our fuel. He believes this could stimulate the economy while helping our environment. Farmers could use the fuel they have made in their own equipment, saving them money. They could then sell the excess to keep their farms in business. To further help farmers, Willie created Farm Aid. Nelson hosts fundraisers to benefit our farmers and supports many causes that are geared towards keeping our farmers in business.

Founded in 1985 with help from Neil Young and John Mellencamp, Farm Aid is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping small family farmers in crisis. It is a resource that helps farmers find information they need also. Nelson was awarded the Feed the Peace Award by the Nobility Project and was inducted into the National Agricultural Hall of Fame for his work with Farm Aid and supporting world peace. Nelson has been speaking out on banning the slaughtering of wild horses, is an Honorary Trustee of the Dayton International Peace Museum, and contributed to the “Occupy This Album” box set in support of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. He is known for supporting Feeding America and the American Red Cross, human rights and all around peace.

For a list of some other charities, foundations and causes supported by Willie Nelson, you can read more here.

Linkin Park’s Environmental Efforts

Linkin Park is an alternative rock band that infuses an electronic vibe into their hard core rock and roll sound. Linkin Park originated from the medium sized town of Agoura Hills in California. Linkin Park steadily rose to fame with the release of their debut album Hybrid Theory in the year 2000. Since then they have consistently made the Billboard Top 100 with every album that they have released. They never fail to make it on to the MTV top 10 list with every song and music video that they release. In addition to their music Linkin Park is best known by their fans for their environmental and charity work. The band often asks their fan base to donate to the band’s causes to raise the awareness of the fans to the injustices of the world. They usually do this by recording a song and letting the fans buy it and download it online and then using 100% of the proceeds from the song to donate to the designated charity.

In the years 2004-2005 Linkin Park donated funds to the Hurricane Charlie, Katrina, and Rita disaster victims. The band’s ability to mobilize and quickly assess the impact of these natural disasters has helped to provide speedy relief from the financial burdens for those charities who received the donations. They have also been actively collecting donations for all of the countries that are being hit and devastated by major earthquakes and tsunami’s in order to make sure that the medical, emotional, and physical needs of the affected people are being provided for.

In 2005 Linkin Park was one of the many bands who participated in a large scale charity concert called Live 8. Live 8 was a benefit concert that was put on in G8 conference cities all over the world. The organizer of Live 8 was Bob Geldof. Bob Geldof is a famous humanitarian and musician. The Live 8 concert was timed to be a week before the G8 summit took place and to also be on the date of the 20th anniversary of Live Aid. Live Aid was also a large scale charity concert put on by the best musicians of that time. Some of the musicians from Live 8 were allowed to address the G8 summit and asked the conference to double the amount of financial aid that is given to the countries that are in need. The G8 conference agreed and it proved to the world that Live 8 was successful. The ideas that were put forth to the masses on that day have all had an affect on our society and we are better for it. All of these charity concerts and events have the goal to end poverty on a global level.

Linkin Park founded the charity Music for Relief. The goal of Music for Relief is to monetarily help the people who are caught up in natural disasters and to raise everyone’s awareness on global warming. Linkin Park has been a long time advocate for awakening the world’s awareness of the disasters that we are creating by polluting the world in which we live in. Their messages are simple enough that all should be able to impact the world by doing little things everyday to remove the effects of stress that human pollution has on our Earth. The band recently announced their Power the World campaign. The goal of Power the World is to provide a thousand Haitian families with solar powered lights. This project is helping raise awareness to the United Nations Secretary Ban Ki Moon’s project called Sustainable Energy for All.

Moby, A Champion for Animal Rights

His birth certificate says “Richard Melville Hall,” but the world knows him as Moby. Although he was vaulted to superstardom when 1999’s Play was rediscovered by the world in 2000, he’s been on the scene for much longer than that. Moby has been active in music since the early 1990s, and has remixed tracks for a diverse crop of artists ranging from Prodigy to The B-52s. He’s been steadily recording and releasing music, most recently with his 2011 album “Destroyed.” When he’s not moving the dance floor, Moby is a strong supporter of causes related to animal rights and the strict animal product-free lifestyle of veganism. The vegan lifestyle isn’t just related to diet. It also stresses the importance of finding alternatives to products known to use animal testing to ascertain their level of safety in relation to human use. Vegans make efforts to find non-animal substitutes for items such as clothing that traditionally use leather, fur, or fabrics (wool, cashmere) that are animal-derived.

In the past, Moby has worked with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). PETA’s mission statement is simple and to the point. Their slogan is “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment.” PETA supports ending things such as factory-run farms that raise livestock, animal testing for household items such as soaps and cosmetics, and the use of animal fur in clothes. PETA has also protested the use of animals for sport and entertainment in venues such as circuses and bullfighting. Although Moby has not been the most vocal supporter of PETA, he has designed merchandise for sale on their website and devoted time to various PETA fundraisers, contributed time for PETA-related interviews, and has even recorded a special Thanksgiving message urging consumers to enjoy a turkey-free Thanksgiving.

As an animal-rights activist, Moby has published various writings on the benefits of the vegan lifestyle. “Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Saftey- Thinking Twice About the Meat We Eat” was edited in part by Moby, and features many facts and studies about the environmental impact of large-scale factory farming, and the consumption of meat and how it relates to health. This book took a wide sampling of various experts from the food industry, health experts, and workers rights activists to explore just what it is that the ‘typical’ diet does to our planet. Moby has also written essays for the liner notes of his albums. At a glance, it wouldn’t make sense to write a treatise on veganism to be included with an album full of techno pop. Considering that albums of his such as “Play” have sold over ten million copies, there’s a good chance that many people have read his insightful commentary on living a cruelty-free lifestyle.

Moby has aligned himself with many charitable causes over the years. Not only has he worked with PETA for the sake of animal rights, but he has also donated time and support to other causes. He supports The Humane Society, another organization devoted to awareness of issues concerning animal abuse. He has even gone so far as to develop his own website that allows artists and filmmakers free use of his music so long as royalty profits go to The Humane Society. He has also supported various causes such as and Politically, Moby considers himself to be nonpartisan, as wants to emphasize the causes he supports, not the political parties supporting said causes.

Here’s are some efforts Moby supports:


Human Society

Moby’s Personal Site

Michael Franti’s Environmental Efforts

Michael Franti, of the reggae, hip-hop, jazz fusion band Michael Franti & Spearhead, has long been seen as an activist for social, political, and environmental causes, but few know the strides he has made to turn the music industry into a conscientious and ecofriendly community. Franti’s environmentalism goes much further than his oft-noted decision to go barefoot; Franti is vegan, and takes care both at home and on tour to reduce his carbon footprint. He hosts a festival that is intended to inspire environmental, social, and political change. Franti’s philosophy is to lead by example. He told Grist, an online environmental magazine, that he believed the role of the music industry is “to be an example of an industry that can green itself.” He also stated that music is a way to inspire people and deliver positive messages. “The other thing,” he said, “is that music can help with awareness through the music itself.”

One of Franti’s biggest initiatives to inspire environmental change is to reduce his personal carbon footprint and make his music tours more ecofriendly. At his house, he has changed his light bulbs to more energy-efficient alternatives, has stopped using plastic bags, and has begun recycling and composting waste. More importantly, he has set an incredible example of just how green a tour can be. His tour bus runs on biodiesel, require that things be recyclable on his tour rider, and uses organic cotton and hemp for merchandise. He even uses biodiesel generators on his festival’s stages and requires merchants to use biodegradable plates and utensils. “I feel like inspiring people to be a part of this change that’s taking place in this country and around the world,” he told Grist. Franti hopes things work together to inspire change. By requiring venues to use green products, it supports makers if green products, which supports communities and concert goers.

Franti’s other major initiative is his Power to the Peaceful festival, which he holds annually for free in San Francisco. The goal of the festival is to “combine Music, Art, Community and Consciousness for people of all ages and from around the world,” and features green vendors and an ecovillage. While the festival couldn’t take place in 2012 due to rising city fees, it will continue to make an impact in the future. The festival has become a tradition in San Francisco and brings in more than 50,000 attendees. The festival is a way to raise awareness while also providing a blueprint for how other music events can be more sustainable. In addition to musicians and performers giving speeches and calls to action about environmental issues, the entire festival itself is recyclable, biodegradable, and run on more ecofriendly energy.

In addition to the Power to the Peaceful festival, Franti has partnered with many organizations to raise global awareness about environmental and political causes. CARE, an organization seeking to end global poverty, is a major sponsor of the festival. Because of this, Franti is the San Francisco ambassador for CARE. In 2001, Global Exchange offered him a Domestic Human Rights award for his work. Franti has also partnered with organizations that seek to improve voter turnout and political engagement. The Hunters Point Family, a nonprofit that strives to improve outcomes for at-risk youth, has been supported by Franti on several occasions. Finally, Franti’s clothing line Stay Human donates part of its proceeds to the Bumi Sehat Natural Birthing Clinic in Indonesia.

Power to the Peaceful
Grist Article on Franti
The Western Edition

Alanis Morissette, Environmentalist

With a musical career that has grown to unprecedented proportions, Alanis Morissette is no stranger to the limelight. The singer is perhaps best known for her smash hit “You Oughta Know”, a powerful song that rages with lyrics telling the tale of a bitterly ended romance; however, her true breakthrough arrived at the release of an entire album. Titled “Jagged Little Pill”, this collection of songs gave Morissette numerous awards and a loyal base of hardcore fans. However, even with all of the fame that the singer has accumulated over the years, she is a dedicated environmentalist who frequently voices her opinion on how to ensure that the world remains a safe, natural haven for generations to come. Alanis Morissette believes that global warming poses a true threat to the Earth and has gone to great lengths to make her mark in the fight for the environment, becoming a vegan and being involved in several national environmental awareness campaigns.

One of the singer’s most significant contributions to the environmental cause was her narration of a documentary that warned against the onset of global warming. Titled “The Great Warming”, It made several national headlines; the New York Times praised the program, stating that it should be required viewing for every person. The documentary consisted of versions that were geared towards various communities, but made the largest splash with both evangelical churches and animal welfare groups, providing valuable insight on global warming that had not been previously considered.

Another one of Alanis Morissette’s most notable contributions to the environmental effort was her help in the fight against Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles; both she and the Beastie Boys joined the efforts of several environmental groups, including Greenpeace and Americans for Energy Freedom, to showcase the Deputy Interior Secretary’s failure to oversee various national parks, including Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Griles, with his previous connections to assorted oil companies, was reputed to have repeatedly shown conflicted environmental interests, and Morissette joined the voices of those who said that he was not to be trusted with the country’s most valuable ecological havens.

Alanis Morissette has been linked to several environmental causes and organizations throughout her career, and she has won awards for both her music and her efforts to improve the world. In recognition of the singer’s repeated actions to protect the environment, the EMA Missions in Music Award was given to Morissette after she voiced her opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Alanis Morissette has lent both her music and her political voice to a number of causes and has assisted many organizations in their goal to protect the environment, including Greenpeace, a widely acclaimed environmental protection organization, as well as the group Americans for Energy Freedom. Her personal dedication to the ecosystem has also not gone unnoticed; she frequently makes an effort to reduce her carbon footprint while on musical tours with the assistance of Reverb, a nonprofit environmental group. Regardless of where the singer is or what she is currently going through, she never fails to showcase her compassion for others and for the Earth.

Thom Yorke, Radiohead frontman, Environmentalist

Thom Yorke is lead singer in the popular UK alternative rock band Radiohead. Over the years, this rock group has gracefully combined its love of eclectic music – ranging from hard rock to minimalist electronic sounds – with an outspoken voice for various social causes. One of the biggest causes on Yorke and Radiohead’s agenda is a greener, more environmentally friendly world. Yet, despite his outspoken activism, Yorke realizes he is not, and never will be, holier-than-thou. For instance, this ambassador of sorts for the charity Friends of the Earth realizes how large concerts, tours and festivals use a whole lot of fossil fuel, not to mention the mountains of unrecyclable waste produced. Even though he doesn’t drive a large automobile, he is not entirely innocent. He, like everybody else, leaves a carbon footprint. He merely wants to make his print smaller, and encourage others to follow in his (smaller) footsteps.

As an example of Yorke’s activism, the Radiohead front man posted a note to President Barack Obama on the band’s website concerning the Alberta Tar Sands project. Key to Yorke’s opposition to this project is construction of the Keystone XL, which is expected to be a 1700 mile long pipeline. It reaches from the Alberta Tar sands (hence the project name) all the way to some oil refineries stationed at the Gulf of Mexico carrying Earth-hurting oil. He titled this post “Real vs. Astroturf,” and urged the American president not to “press one of THE big red climate self destruct buttons.”

Yorke is by no means a one-protest-trick-pony, however. Back in 2010, York also utilized the Radiohead website to post what he titled, a “Sticky Tar Chart Rant” to protest the Canadian government’s aim of increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at the 2010 Copenhagen Summit. Prior to that, Yorke obtained access to the COP 15 climate change talks in Copenhagen in December of 2009 by posing as a member of the press. This was the same year he also declared his support for 10:10 percent, a campaign to motivate people to act positively toward climate changes by using less carbon emissions.

This artist outspokenly supports Friends of the Earth, a group that aims for a world that’s healthier and more just. To do this, Friends of the Earth seek to alter the views of politicians and members of the media, in order to ultimately enact environmentally-friendly policy changes. One big area of focus is targeting the businesses that create environmental damage. By stunting polluters’ economic growth, the group can also slow down and reduce environmental degradation. Both Yorke and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood performed at a Friends of the Earth benefit in 2006. More information about Friends of the Earth can be found here. By the way, Yorke is much more likely to work with organizations he trusts, such as Friends of the Earth, rather than partnering with politicians. In 2006, Yorke was in the news because he turned down Prime Minister Tony Blair’s invitation to talk about climate change by saying Blair had “no environmental credentials.” Another environmental organization Yorke supports is CND (or Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament). This group supports unilateral nuclear disarmament for the United Kingdom, as well as disarmament internationally. One such way this group hopes to attain its goals is through advocating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. More information about CND can be found here.

John Legend, Soul Singer-Songwriter, Environmentalist

John Legend, the famous American soul singer-songwriter, has been making strides in the fight to make society more environmentally friendly. Legend has won nine Grammy awards and received a special award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Focusing on disaster relief and reducing reliance on non-renewable energy, Legend has done everything to promote sustainability, from performing at awareness concerts to having his tour go green. He even performed at the Green Inaugural Ball, an event that promoted and celebrated President Obama’s promise to focus on sustainable energy and environmentally friendly policy. Legend’s approach to painting the world green is focused on awareness. The singer, whose most popular albums include Get Lifted and Evolver, wants people across the globe to join together to better living conditions.

Legend has focused on leading by example when it comes to lessening carbon footprints. He told The Guardian that he recycles very carefully and was interested in purchasing a hybrid car. In 2009, he partnered with REVERB, a non-profit environmental organization, to make his 50-city Evolver tour as green as possible. Arrangements were made with venues and hotels to make sure ecofriendly products and services were available. The carbon footprint of the tour was calculated, and Legend decided to offset it by matching it with investment into wind farms and other environmentally forward projects. Merchandise that was green-friendly was sold on his website, which also included resources for ride-sharing to the venues. Prizes and tips were offered to fans that rose to calls of action. In part because of this tour, Legend was given a spot on Billboard’s Green 10 list.

Legend is also concerned with how the environment can affect health and poverty across the world. He launched a campaign in 2007 called The Show Me Campaign after researching global solutions to poverty. The mission of the campaign is to “support community-led development initiatives aimed at providing sustainable, scalable solutions that help the communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty.” Through efforts in awareness and fundraising, Legend was able to promote development in Mbola, Tanzania, and other impoverished areas. He has undertaken such initiatives as providing mosquito nets to prevent malaria, offering free lunches for children who attend school, and ensure that clean drinking water is available. He was awarded a BET Humanitarian award for his work on the campaign. The Show Me campaign continues to so this day; its latest initiative is a team-up with the International Rescue Committee to raise awareness for children in crisis zones.

Legend has partnered with many awareness-through-music organizations, such as Live Earth, to spread a message of environmental sustainability. His own project, The Show Me campaign, has partnered with Jeffrey Sachs’ Millennium Promise organization to ensure proper strategy for combating poverty. Legend has also partnered with Tide’s Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, AIDS Service Center NYC, Hope for Haiti Now, and the World Economic Forum. Legend shows no sign of slowing down his environmental efforts, and with the release of his next full-length record, America will see another round of innovative green efforts.

Links of Interest

John Legend Plans Eco-friendly Summer Tour

John Legend’s Show Me Campaign Earns BET Humanitarian Award

Show Me Campaign

John Legend Interview on The Guardian