“Waiting On The World To Change” – John Mayer

John Mayer’s 2009 hit “Waiting On The World To Change,” talks about the misconceptions of our youth generation who “stand for nothing,” despite our nation’s current social and political issues. Does John Mayer sing the truth? Whether you agree or disagree the song’s success suggests that people both willing and able to listen, and perhaps that’s the first step.

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Dave Matthews performs brand new song “Mercy” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The lyrics of the song carry strong social and political weight. What might Mr. Matthews mean when he sings “Don’t give up / I know you can see all the world and the mess we’re making / can’t give up and hope God will intercede” and “Mercy, will we overcome this?”


Obama, are you listening?

Lady Gaga speaks at the National Equality March in Washington D.C. in October 2009. Addressing Obama, she screams, “are you listening?” Do you think she got her message across? Is she using her celebrity in a positive way?

“Peace Train” – Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens performs “Peace Train” on his 1976 Earth Tour.

In a statement to Rolling Stone Magazine, Stevens talks about the famous song: “‘Peace Train’ is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions and there is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again.”

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“Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” – Tracy Chapman

Performed by contemporary folk artist Tracy Chapman, ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution’ is an example of a modern protest song imbued with the revolutionary spirit of early activist music.

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“My President is Black” – Young Jeezy

The presentation and representation of black subjectivity in 21st century hip-hop and rap music tends to be problematic. While some artists continue to deliver the same politically and socially conscious messages of their predecessors, those shadowy few have become marginalized by mainstream hip-hop and rap. As African American music continues to thrive as an artistic outlet that fosters cultural growth and experimentation and allows artists to share their voice with a world audience, it is time to reconsider what exactly is worth sharing. Instead of spreading messages of racism, violence, and the degradation of women, contemporary voices of African American music need to come together like the generations before them to find a new forms and new sounds for expressing authentic 21st black subjectivity outside of the confines of the mainstream market.

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“Redemption Song” – Bob Marley

Considered a prophet of his generation, Bob Marley expressed the need for liberation from physical and mental confinement. The lyrical masterpiece of “Redemption Song” speaks to the lost people of a lost generation.

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“Changes” – Tupac Shakur

Released posthumously, Tupac Shakur’s 1998 hit “Changes” is an example of rap music’s powerful imagery pre-commercialization of the genre. A west coast rapper, Tupac was shot and killed in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1996. Many consider Tupac and his rap rival Notorious B.I.G. who was also shot and killed less than a year later, martyrs for the cause. In “Changes,” Tupac raps about black subjectivity and experience and questions the possibility of change

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2011 Responsible Activism in Media & Entertainment Award – Dave Matthews

The 2011 Jane Goodall Global Leadership Awards were presented on September 24, 2011. This year’s winner for Responsible Activism in Media and Entertainment was Dave Matthews. This award pays tribute to outstanding individuals who leverage their celebrity to advocate for sustainability, conservation and humanity in the spirit of Dr. Jane Goodall and her remarkable work.

We Shall Overcome – Mahalia Jackson

Mahalia Jackson singing “We Shall Overcome,” a powerful song considered to be the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement

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