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Music With a Message About Poverty

Art and activism have always had tangible histories. Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel, The Jungle, was a fictional work that changed the face of American labor . At the turn of the 20th century, Nellie Bly and fellow muckrakers used photography to shed light on poverty and poor working conditions, both in New York City and around the world.

And today we have the Global Citizen Festival.

Humanitarian Bevans BranhamAn article was recently published in the New York Times entitled, “Music With a Message About Poverty.” In the article, author Nate Chinen explores the role that the Global Citizen Festival in New York City’s Central Park, has in making a difference.

The program, the author writes, was hosted in September, and for the second consecutive year drew a full crowd of 60,000. Focused on the mission of ending poverty in the world, the program is not only a behemoth musical concert, but an informational, powerful congregation, timed (no doubt for the symbolism) to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly and the annual gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative. Featuring artists like John Mayer, Alicia Keys, The Kings of Leon, and Stevie Wonder, the Festival brought national attention to issues that might otherwise be ignored or minimized.

Interestingly, Chipen told readers, most of those 60,000 tickets were not purchased, but rather earned. Anyone who wanted to attend the concert could register on the organization’s website, and rather than pull out their credit card, was prompted to complete tasks related to building awareness around the Global Citizen Festival’s primary goal, to end extreme poverty.

In his review, Chipen praises the artists for their meaningful lyrics and powerful presence, noting John Mayer’s timely performance of “Waiting on the World to Change,” and Alicia Keys’ strong presentment of the lyric, “I’m here to make a statement.” But most notable, he argues, was Stevie Wonder.

Poverty wasn’t the only issue on Wonder’s agenda, however. According to the article, he told the crowd, “We must do something about the gun laws in this country,” before diving into a cover of John Lennon’s quintessential reflection on idealism, “Imagine.”

According to the article, Wonder proclaimed to the crowd, “We are global citizens, we’re gonna change the world.”