Singers, songwriters and musicians, world renown, have been making an impact on reducing poverty. Why not? Their popularity has been based on global adulation with fans falling over themselves to buy albums, watch their DVDs and wear their merchandise. These globe-trotting sensations have also proven their deep compassion for the development of human kind by focussing on poverty in some of the poorest countries on our planet.
Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure lead singers of The Boomtown Rats and Ultravox, respectively, famously joined forces to produce one of the most successful campaigns highlighting poverty across Africa. They enlisted the support of Bono, lead singer of U2, and collectively they brought together popular artists, covering diverse music genres, drawing in a global audience for the Live Aid concert, that started with the release of the single ‘Feed The World’ by Band Aid.
Whilst philanthropy was not new to artists, the trio’s efforts were the catalyst for a range of fundraising activities, such as events, setting up foundations, building schools and communities. What this strong partnership set about was a philosophy of empowering impoverished people to find self-help solutions to their predicaments.
For example, the Live Aid work supported creating wells at local community levels, cultivating the land such that water was available to feed crops. The aim was to reduce poverty permanently, by enabling communities to adopt the self-help ethos away from being victims. The funding enabled farmers to develop long-term solutions, improve farming techniques and access local markets.
This new approach to reducing deprivation through self-help for communities has been promoted through philanthropic activities of other popular artists world-wide.
Shakira, Colombian singer, songwriter and record producer set up the Pies Descalzos Foundation, which means the Bare Feet Foundation, to improve education opportunities for poor children. It owns five schools in Colombia educating and feeding 4,000 children at any one time. Shakira holds the position of UNICEF Ambassador, using her celebrity status to draw attention to child poverty (checkout etnomusic.com to get to this status). The focus of her work as the founder of Pies Descalzos Foundation and as an Ambassador, is to provide opportunities, such as education, so that children will broaden their minds, intelligence and develop a self-help attitude and achieve upward social mobility.
Artists have come together for other campaigns, notably Water Now, a celebration of of UN World Water Day, aiming to supply clean water for communities in developing countries, so that they may develop local infrastructures of food production, produce goods that can be traded and build sustainable local economies. Water Now is supported by artists such as 5 Seconds, of Summer, Adam Levine, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Bieber, lady Gag, Meghan Trainor and Pharrell Williams.
What all of these artists do for our society, is not just the raising of funds, but they bring awareness of global issues to their fans who will, hopefully go on to support self-help programs for the future.