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Musicians Rally This Week


The Women’s March on Washington takes place Saturday following the presidential inauguration. As many as 200,000 people are expected to walk in D.C., plus those who participate in the 200 additional marches across the country. Marches have been planned for Friday and Saturday in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and other Bay Area communities. Vice reports that the march in the capital was conceived the day after the election.

Organizers say the event is nonpartisan, focused on issues like family leave, racial profiling, reproductive rights, and more.

Sentient singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, folk-pop duo Indigo Girls (Emily Saliers and Amy Ray), and 80s rapper and hip-hop feminist pioneer MC Lyte are among the artists performing in Washington. Janelle Monae, Maxwell and singer-songwriter/activist Angelique Kidjo have just been added to the lineup. Questlove, Grimes, Neko Case, Rakim and Lila Downs are included in the march’s “artist table”.

They aren’t the only musicians getting their voices heard this week. Prophets of Rage announced an Anti-Inaugural Ball on the 20th anniversary of Radio Free Los Angeles, a protest broadcast hosted by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine in response to Bill Clinton’s inauguration. The on-air show included music from Flea, Jane Addiction’s Stephen Perkins, Beck, Cypress Hill and more. The Anti-Inaugural Ball on Friday will include performances by Jackson Browne, plus the recently reunited Audioslave, who will play for the first time in 11 years.

In a piece written for the Los Angeles Times on activism and music, Morello said:

Music made me feel that I could have my hands on the steering wheel of history…Harmonizing and hell-raising, poetry and politics, singing and striking, rhythm and rebellion. The message was a simple one: ‘The world ain’t gonna change itself. That’s up to you.’

Peace Ball, an “alternative inauguration” night to celebrate “the accomplishments and successes of the past 4 years”, takes place tonight and will include performances by Solange, Esperanza Spalding, and more.

janelle monae women's march
By Mark J. Sebastian – via Flickr, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

In a recent statement, Janelle Monae said of music’s role in sparking societal change:

I am honored to join this critical movement to bring justice and equality to all. Music has always been a powerful tool for galvanizing unity and I believe that singing and standing together, our voices will be stronger than any force that tries to repress us.

Women’s March performers include:

Janelle Monáe, Maxwell, and Angelique Kidjo headline. Toshi Reagon, Samantha Ronson, Emily Wells, DJ Rekha, MC Lyte, St. Beauty, Beverly Bond, Alia Sharief, DJ Rimarkable, Amber Coffman, the Indigo Girls, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Climbing PoeTree will also perform.

Speakers and other participants include:

Cecile Richards, Erika Andiola, Ilyasah Shabazz, J. Bob Alotta, Janet Mock, LaDonna Harris, Maryum Ali, Melanie Campbell, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Rhea Suh, Sister Simone Campbell, Sophie Cruz, Zahra Billoo, America Ferrera, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Moore, Amanda Nguyen, Randi Weingarten, Van Jones, George Gresham, Mothers of the Movement (Sybrina Fulton, Lucy McBath, Maria Hamilton, Gwen Carr), Hina Naveed, Judith LaBlanc, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Aida Hurtado, Melissa Mays, Raquel Willis, Rosyln Brock, Sister Ieasha Prime, The Honorable Muriel Bowser, Ai-jen Poo, Wendy Carrillo, Dr. Cynthia Hale, and the March co-chairs Bob Bland, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Tamika Mallory.

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