I began to write this column about The Cure’s new North American trek and how excited I am that the Brit band is back and touring. Robert Smith and his band The Cure saved me during those delicate high school years. When one feels disenfranchised, music can be a great friend. The Cure’s songs and Robert’s lyrics are still with me today.
What most people don’t realize is the charity work Robert has done for the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), an agency for overseas development, promoting human development and social justice. Robert is also a supporter of Teenage Cancer Trust, focusing on the needs of teenagers and young adults with cancer, leukemia, Hodgkin’s and related diseases.
This reminded me of the importance of music and the many musicians whom work toward worthwhile endeavours.
We witnessed the amazing affect the “Band Aid” single had for Ethiopian relief in 1984. Bob Geldof, Sting, Duran Duran, Midge Ure and many other Brit musicians put aside egos and gained world attention to the famine crisis in Eastern Africa. The single raised millions of dollars.
The U.S. followed with Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper and many others offering USA For Africa’s We Are The World. Canada wasn’t far behind with the supergroup Northern Lights. “Tears Are Not Enough” showcased Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Corey Hart, Joni Mitchell and other Canuck music heavyweights.
The Band Aid lynchpin Bob Geldof spearheaded Live Aid in the summer of 1985. Two mammoth concerts were held simultaneously in Philadelphia and London. Millions around the globe watched Madonna, Queen, a young U2, Pete Townshend, members of The Rolling Stones, a reunited Led Zeppelin, Tina Turner, David Bowie and so many others performing, raising awareness for famine relief and most importantly, raising millions of dollars.
The Live Aid concerts became a blueprint for how charity fundraising concerts were conducted for the rest of the ’80s , ’90s and even now. After Live Aid, we witnessed Farm Aid, The Prince’s Trust Concerts, Nelson Mandela Tribute Concerts, Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, Amnesty Concerts and so many more.
The world’s music community began a large string of Charity albums many years ago. The numerous volumes of the “Special Olympics” Christmas compilations and “HELP! War Child” CDs are just a couple of favourites in my library of thousands of discs.
I absolutely adore the many musicians who donate their name and time to focus on issues important to them … The Tea Party donated all the proceeds from their single “Release” to the White Ribbon Campaign (ending men’s violence toward women). Steve Earle and Bruce Cockburn work actively to bring attention to the moratorium on landmines. I devoted an entire column to The Tragically Hip and highlighted that awesome band’s numerous charity endeavours.
Touring Graceland in Memphis, we see the hundreds of cheques Elvis Presley wrote to many charities. Even his daughter Lisa Marie is a vocal advocate for ending the drugging of children.
Techno artist Moby is an active proponent for animal rights (his 1996 album is entitled Animal Rights).
Locally, Kingston’s own Light Of Day Concert for Parkinson’s research is quickly becoming a must-attend event.
I have covered SarsStock, Kumbaya in Toronto for AIDS awareness and relief, Live 8, Lilith Fair, The Concert for NYC, Canada’s Tsunami benefit with Rush and the Barenaked Ladies and so many others. I am always amazed at the eagerness and willingness of musicians wanting to step up and try to make our world a better place.
Music can be THE CURE!
© Bill Welychka