First Person

31 music artists you can feel good about listening to

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Music fans at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in June 2014. Oxfam's team at Bonnaroo reached out to more than 4,500 fans during the multi-day event. Photo: Coco McCabe/Oxfam America

Check out a playlist of some talented musicians who are also doing their part to fight poverty and injustice.

As music fans, what’s our relationship with the artists we love? Besides admiring their talent, should we be looking to them as role models? Are there lessons they can teach us, beyond what we might glean or interpret from their lyrics? In my own life, I’ve found this to certainly be true—Joe Strummer of The Clash, for example, inspired me to become an activist through a quick conversation years ago.

True, not all music artists are worth emulating; they’re humans with flaws, just like any other high-profile people. And it’s tough to say whether we should still call ourselves fans of artists whose behavior or opinions we might personally disagree with. Still, it’s always a bonus when an artist I love—for their talent, their vision, their killer songs—also proves themselves to be a person who cares about issues like poverty, hunger, and social justice.

All of the talented artists on the playlist below fit that bill. They come from different genres, but they have one thing in common: they are friends of Oxfam America, and are willing to lend their voices to our efforts to right the wrong of poverty.

As music outreach manager at Oxfam, I’ve seen how the artists who support our work, and often play at the same festivals we attend, serve as an important amplifier of our voice and the voices of the people our work helps.  They share information about Oxfam’s mission and goals to their fan base through their social media and newsletters, link to our websites from theirs, and occasionally even chat about us from the stage in the middle of their performances. We’ve got artists who send Oxfam info out along with fulfilled mail orders for their CDs and merchandise. And it’s not uncommon for artists to partner with Oxfam outreach teams after their shows to help music fans take action by signing our petitions.

Some of this may sound familiar if you attended a major music festival this summer, where Oxfam’s outreach teams—made up mostly of volunteers—connected with thousands of fans in conjunction with our artist friends and helped build our movement to fight poverty. In the new issue of Oxfam Closeup magazine, my colleague Anna Kramer takes readers to the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, where our team engaged about 4,500 fans and left a giant impression. I hope you’ll give it a read.

And don’t forget to listen to and share our playlist, above. You just might discover a cool new artist who shares many of your beliefs. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+