Music can make the world a better place!

January 7, 2022 by No Comments

Today marks the start of U2’s European iNNOCENCE + EXPERIENCE tour. Europe’s stadiums and stages will be filled with music, joy, and euphoria in the coming weeks. There will be tears, raw emotions, and powerful, lasting memories.

Music is a passion of mine and a long-standing social justice activist. I have always wondered: How can music be used to bring about change? Based on my research and personal experience, I will share my thoughts.

Music is an art form that has the advantage of being loud. It attracts attention and can influence opinion. Music can be used to heal, break down borders, reconcile, and educate. Music can protect and promote other human rights, whether they are cultural, political, economic, or social.

Many amazing examples of music being used to promote social change are available. My academic research has focused on two levels of inspiration: the local one, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, (Oh Yeah Music Centre, Terri Hooley), and the global one, the engagement of the anti-poverty group ONE, and the human rights organization Amnesty International.

To see how music can help a society that has been deeply damaged, you only need to visit Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre and chat with Terri Hooley, a Northern Irish music legend. Oh Yeah has a permanent music gallery, recording studio, and songwriting workshop. It brings people together and helps them live and grow through music. Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations, a record shop and record label, became a refuge and meeting place for musicians and those who didn’t want to be harmed by the Troubles. Terri encouraged people not to take up arms and emphasized the power of music in uniting people.

Terri Hooley posed in front of a mural at the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, in November last year…

Many organizations have taken note of this power and used music to promote change. Amnesty International and ONE are the most encouraging examples of activist groups involving musicians to my knowledge. Amnesty’s involvement with musicians began with concerts in the 1980s. It then continued with Art for Amnesty, which brings together artists from many fields that support human rights. Every day, more artists join Amnesty to support their activities and push for social change.

What about ONE? I believe that ONE was born from musicians who wanted to make a difference through their music. Think to Make Poverty History or the Live concerts. I was able to witness the launch of ONE’s agit campaign. This encouraged leaders to take action against extreme poverty during the 2013 G8 summit. It also featured worldwide performances of protest songs.

The U2360 tour was a particularly uplifting experience. ONE was there, along with Amnesty International, Burma Campaign and Amnesty International, at each 110 concert tours from 2009 to 2011. People were encouraged and supported to join ONE to make a difference. The most memorable moment occurred during “Walk On” when everyone put on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi masks, and all the volunteers, including me, came on stage wearing masks. Every concert brought a sense of hope and showed that people were willing to make a difference.

What about now? We are at an unprecedented turning point in global development today. There has been a lot of progress made, including dramatic drops in the death rate of young children, record numbers of people receiving life-saving HIV treatment, and huge improvements in access to safe drinking waters. There is much more to do.

The world will come together to agree on a new plan to eradicate extreme poverty. We can all make our voices heard for those of us who are passionate about music and wish to support this cause. Participate with ONE tonight at the U2 gig in Turin or any concert on tour.


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