Cause Song of the Month:

"No Tears Left To Cry," Ariana Grande's first new song in two years is all about "pickin' it up" and being positive. Grande can be forgiven if she needed time to reach this place. In May 2017 a suicide bomber in Manchester, England attacked Grande's fans as one of her concerts was letting out, resulting in 23 deaths and more than 500 injuries. In the aftermath, Grande performed one benefit concert then suspended her tour. After participating in the pro-gun control March For Our Lives last month, Grande released "No Tears Left To Cry" to showcase her new direction. Featuring lines like "I'm lovin', I'm livin', I'm pickin' it up" and "I just want you to come with me" the shows Grande moving on. Which could be a lesson for all of us. Buy it here. — Aaron Brophy

South African jazz trumpeter and anti-apartheid crusader Hugh Masekela, who passed away today (Jan. 23) from prostate cancer at age 78, recorded 1987's "Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)" during his 30-year exile from his racially segregated homeland.  Abroad, he had a No. 1 U.S. hit with "Grazing in the Grass;" performed on the Monterey Pop Festival; and recorded and toured with Paul Simon, among his successes. In 1990, when Mandela was finally released from prison after 27 years, Masekela returned home.  In his statement upon Masekela's death, South African President Jacob Zuma said, "He kept the torch of freedom alive globally fighting apartheid through his music and mobilising international support for the struggle for liberation and raising awareness of the evils of apartheid." Buy the song here. — Karen Bliss

 

When musical poet/The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie died Oct. 17 due to brain cancer, he left Canada with one last message — the country must reconcile with the way it has mistreated its indigenous peoples for the last 150 years so that it can be better in the next 150 years. Downie backed up these words in deed (he created The Downie Wenjack Fund), and in music, releasing the 2016 concept album Secret Path about Chanie Wenjack, a Anishinaabe boy who died from hunger and exposure after escaping a residential school. "The Stranger" is one of the singles from this album. Buy it here. — Aaron Brophy

American rap rock supergroup Prophets of Rage, which release its debut self-titled album Sept. 15, debuted the music video for “Radical Eyes” on Aug. 22, the day after the solar eclipse.  Said guitarist Tom Morello,  “On the heels of this historic solar event, let’s all aim to eclipse racism.” Featuring the lyric “They didn’t hear my cry, they said f**k my crisis,” bandmate/rap legend Chuck D also weighed in on the aggresive anti-racism approach: “The Western world has created biased structures and stereotypes. Opposing viewpoints and movements are seen as radical rather than diversity.” Listen here. — Daniel Teichman

Canadian rock trio The Tea Party, currently on tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their album Transmission, still talk about the inspiration behind one of the songs, “Release.” Frontman Jeff Martin wrote the lyric as an apology to women after watching a BBC story about women’s rights around the world. When it was released as a single, proceeds went to the White Ribbon campaign, a movement organized by men to end violence against women.  “I want the world to wake/I want to give you peace/I want to vindicate/You need to be released,” the songs begins. Buy it here. — Karen Bliss

 

 

Legendary folk-rock musician Bob Dylan was recently awarded the Nobel prize in literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." While "The Times They Are a-Changin'" and a "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" may be better known protest songs, it's Dylan's "Masters Of War" from the 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan which might have the most timeless pro-peace application. A blunt, sometimes strident condemnation of the military-industrial complex, Dylan wrote the song about the Cold War arms race, but many of its tenets are still relevant today. Listen to the song here. — Aaron Brophy

I am Orlando/You are the world,” Canadian folk singer Alejandra Ribera’s somber song begins. Originally inspired by the title character Virginia Woolf novel Orlando, it has now taken on new meaning. She wrote it in Paris the week of the Charlie Hedbo massacre in 2015 after she was “paralyzed by my sadness” and used songwriting “to soothe myself,” she notes in the press release. “At that time I needed to remind myself of the potential for transformation that can only come in our most vulnerable moments.” She released it now as a tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting and the other recent tragedies. Listen to the song here. — Karen Bliss

With the Syrian refugee crisis continuing to impact not only Europe, but the rest of the world, it's important to remember musicians have responded to similar events before. In 1971 George Harrison released "Bangla Desh," one of the first-ever charity pop singles. Release three days before the former Beatles member's related Concert For Bangladesh, the song raised awareness for the millions of refugees from eastern Pakistan suffering from the combined impacts of the 1970 Bhola cyclone and the Bangladesh Liberation War. Buy it here. —Aaron Brophy

The second single from Marvin Gaye's landmark What's Going On album, "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," is one of the greatest, most poignant environmental anthems ever recorded. The song hit No. 4 on the Billboard Pop Chart and No. 1 on the R&B Chart. More importantly, it shared an important message. In three minutes and 14 seconds, Gaye confronted air pollution, poisoned seas, radiation leaks and over-population in a way that's just as true — if not more so — some 45 years later. Buy it here. —Aaron Brophy

Damian Kulash Jr., frontman for America’s OK go, has written a solemn acoustic song for those who died and were affected by the terrorist attacks at Paris rock venue Bataclan. “I wrote a prayer for peace,” he posted. “with the bombings in Beirut, the attacks in Paris and Mali, […] threats in Brussels, the bombing of the Russian airline, the going atrocities in Syria, and so much other violence and war around the world, I hope peace can find a way.” The song was included in Al Gore’s climate change TV special presentation, The 24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth. Listen to the song here. — Karen Bliss