Fighting for Human Rights with Music: Playing for Change Brings Together 200+ Artists From Keb’ Mo’ to Billie Eilish For International Human Right’s Day

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

At a time in history when global society leans more toward divisiveness instead of unity, the music world has been trying to bring a stronger sense of community from within, hoping that this would effect a larger, global reaction. While nothing in the recent past has come close to the scale of Live AID and its interconnectedness between at least two countries– the U.S. and the United Kingdom with their simultaneous concerts in Philadelphia and London in 1985, a new effort for transcendent and transcontinental harmony begins again this week. 

Without the barriers of cable communication, time delays, and massive amounts of production costs that were problematic in the ’80s and cut into Live AID’s overall proceeds for Africa, the Playing for Change foundation and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will bypass those overhead costs of physical stages and production by re-broadcasting the marathon 48 hour virtual concert Peace Through Music: A Global Event for Social Justice on Human Rights Day /December 10, 2020 at 12pm PST/3pm EST/8pm GMT on YouTube. With artists and presenters donating their time and performances from wherever they are in the world, nearly all of the proceeds raised will be donated directly without the additional expenses. With a handful of organizations and foundations to which proceeds will be donated such as the Playing for Change Foundation, The United Nations Population Fund, the Bob Marley Foundation, etc., the funds will be used to held rid the world of poverty, inequality, and systemic racial and gender discrimination around the world… a fight whose battle seems to be growing larger due to the socio-political climate infecting the world’s stage.

A massive and broad collection of artists that spreads across the musical spectrum, Peace Through Music might even be considered more ambitious and thorough in its assemblage of acts.  While Live AID focused primarily on the big pop and rock artists of that era such as George Michael, Alison Moyet, Madonna, Culture Club, U2 and Elton John among the 75+ artists, Peace Through Music crosses countries, languages, and genres of music to provide a larger and more comprehensive compendium of modern music.  Including such Western Music luminaries as Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, Ringo Starr, Yo Yo Ma, Mavis Staples mixed in with the younger guard including Brandi Carlile, Billie Eilish, Aloe Blacc and The War and Treaty in its list, it also includes such international artists as Uruguay’s Rubén Rada, Nepal’s Sanjay Shrestha, and Japanese percussionist Yu Hatakeyama among the 200 assembled musicians.

“I believe it was the great Nina Simone who said, ‘How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?’ And that’s what this event is all about, based on one simple premise: All the things in life that divide us disappear when the music plays,” says Playing for Change co-founder Mark Johnson. “That’s what we’re all about. Reminding people that we share this planet. It’s not mine or yours. It’s our’s. And with music, we’re able to see the inspiration, see the hope.  We’re able to reinvent the way we see the world through the lens of music and art.”

American blues legend and five time Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’ is one of the big celebrated artists amid an ocean of marquee names. “It’s like the world is a big organism, made up of atoms and molecules and small cells,” he says, marveling at the myriad of artists all donating their time and music to such a humanistic endeavor. “And I think those small cells generate healing and generate love and generate all of those things. I look at the world by looking at the community, what’s going on around me. I can’t see what’s going on all over the world, but I can see what’s in my community and I can see what I do. That’s why I work with people like Mark and Whitney and Playing For Change. That’s why I attach myself to these people because they go to these communities, and to the cellular, atomic level, to create change.”

In addition to the musical performances, there will be special appearances and presentations by film and screen personalities such as Danny Glover and Norman Lear, athletes such as Jamal Murray, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird,  and groundbreaking officials such as Amina Mohammed (Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations), Dr. Natalia Kanem (Executive Director of UNFPA) and Epsy Campbell Barr (First Vice President of Costa Rica).

Excited for the planned events and prepared for the continued fight for the justice of human rights, Johnson sums up, “That’s what this whole event is about. Over 200 musicians all over the world, coming together to say ‘We stand by each other. We stand for social justice and human rights for everybody.’ So it’s an incredible opportunity to reflect the times we face. Music was invented for this purpose. No matter what we face as a society, music is a tool invented by us to lift each other up and inspire us to create a better future.”

For more information about December 10th’s celebration for Human Right’s Day, Peace Through Music, and a full lineup of participating artists, celebrities and world figures and leaders, go here.

Check out our Album of the Year List | and the Song of the Year List

Full Lineup:
Abdiel Pérez, Abiodun Oyewole (The Last Poets), Afro Fiesta, Ahmed Al Harmi, Al Harban Brothers, Alceu Maia, Alcione, Alfred Howard (US), Ali Boulala, Aloe Blacc, Amin Dominguez, Amina J. Mohammed (UN), Ana Carolina Pitti, André Siqueira, Andreus Valdés Torres, Angélique KidjoAnnie Lennox, Armando Chiari, Azueï, Barou Sall, Becky G, Béla Fleck, Bernardo Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead), Bill Summers, Billie Eilish, Binho, Bizung Family Band, Brandi Carlile with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Candombe Drum Group, Carl C-Wyya Edwards, Carlinhos 7 Cordas, Carlos Amaya, Carlos Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana, Cesar Pope, Chandrajit, Chango Spasiuk, Char, Cheikh Gueye, Chouloute Minouche, Cizinho Jorge, Clarence Bekker, Congo Drums, Cory Henry, Courtney “Bam” Diedrick, Cristina Pato, Damaso Meléndez, Danny Glover,  David Casséus, Debora Do Santos, Dianelys Vázquez, Dimitri Dolganov, Dina Elwebidi, Diógenes Villanueva, Django Degen, Donald Harrison and Congo Square Nation, Dr. John, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dudu Nobre, Dynamic Music Collective, Eduin Valdés Hernández, EduMundo and Caveman, Elián De Hoyos, Elianys de Hoyos, Ellie Goulding, Elsa Molinar, Epsy Campbell Barr, Erubide Arias, Estefani Moreno, Estevenson Padilla Valdés, Eyadou Ag Leche, Fabián Miodownik, Fabrizio Hochschild-Drummond, Fernando Caballero, Fernando “Lobo” Núñez, Francois Viguie, Gabi Melim, Gary Clark Jr., George Porter Jr.,  Geraldo & Dionisio, Gilberto Muñoz, Grandpa Elliott, Guardians Of The New Fire, Guimel Jimenez, Gustavo Montemurro, Heraldo De Hoyos, Hiromitsu Agatsuma, Hugo Soares, Hutch Hutchinson, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Ibram X. Kendi, Ignacio Mateu, Iluska Quiñones, Ivan Neville, Jack Johnson, Jaguara, Jairo Esquina, Jamal Murray, James Vergneau aka Rebel Layonn, Jason Tamba, Javoci Do Imperio, Jeanine Gall, Jim James, Joao Viana, John Cruz, John Prine, John Herno, Jorge Jiménez, Jorge Williams, José Luis “Bocha” Martínez, José Valdés Terán, Julieta Rada, Junior Kissangwa Mbouta, Karl Perazzo, Kasha Sequoia Slavner, Keb’ Mo’, Keiko Komaki, Keiler Valdés Herrera, Keith Richards, Killer Mike, Kolgate,  La Escuelita del Ritmo, Larkin PoeLee Oskar, Lindomar Fraga, Los hijos de Benkos, Louis Mhlanga, Lucas Pietro, Lucila Rada, Luis Carlos Cassiani Simarra, Luiz Augusto, Luiz Otavio, Lukas Nelson, Lurielys Albert, Mamadou Sarr, Mambueni Bisalu, Manuel Betegón, Manuel Pérez Salinas, Marcelo Blanco, Marcus King, Marfa Kurakina, Mark Johnson, Mary Ann Ortiz, Massamba Diop, Mateo, Matias Rada, Mbonda Tempelo, Mavis Staples, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, Mermans Mosengo, Meshell Ndegeocello, Mestra Joana Cavalcante, Michelle BacheletMickey Hart (Grateful Dead), MishCatt, Mohammed Alidu, Nasreen Sheikh, Natalia Kanem (UNFPA), Nathaniel Rateliff, Nayelis Boltier, Nelson Cedres, Nelson Rangel, Nielson Do Tamborim, Nikki Burt, Noé Núñez, Norm, Norman Lear, Ousseynou and Assane Kaba, Papa Lusamba, “Papi” Felix Garemua, Paulo Heman, Peter Bunetta, Peter Gabriel, Playing For Change Band, Playing For Change Foundation, Pokei Klaas, POPO, Prince Ea, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Rajeev Shrestha, Reggie McBride, Renan Silva, Rhiannon Giddens, Ringo Starr, Robbie Robertson, Robert Randolph, Roberto Luti, Robin Moxey, Roger Ridley, Rubén Rada, Rudson Daniel and Enio Taquari, Rui Dinis, Run The Jewels with Josh Homme, Sanjay Shrestha, Santiago Luzacando, Sara Bareilles, Sean “Pow” Diedrick, Sebastian Robertson, Sexteto Tabala, Sheila E., Shemekia Copeland, Sherieta Lewis and Roselyn Williams, Silkroad, Sinamuva, Skip Marley and Cedella Marley, Sol Homar, Songhoy Blues, Stefano Tomaselli, Taikoproject, Taimane, Tal Wilkenfeld, Tatiana Muñoz, The Cape Town Ensemble, The War and Treaty, Tia Vilma, Tito Puente Jr.Toumani DiabatéTP OK Jazz, Tuca Da Cuica, Tula Ben Ari, Tushar Lall, Twanguero, Twin Eagle Drum Group, Venkat, Victor Gabriel Castro, Victor Jiménez, Vientos de Cordoba, Vusi Mahlasela, Washboard Chaz, Welele Doubout, Whitney Kroenke Silverstein, Wilbert Valdés Torres, Williams Callender, Yo-Yo Ma, Yu Hatakeyama, ZEPA, Zulu Choir

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