Music has the power to change communities and shape history. There are countless examples of how music has challenged the status quo and become the face of social movements. Whether it’s anti-apartheid music in Nigera, anti-war music from Ukraine, or feminist protest songs in Latin America, music is often key to authoritarian resistance and community support. But like any mode of powerful artistic expression, music and musicians can be targeted by those who seek to silence or censor voices of change or resistance. In some cases, governments will attempt to ban music that challenges their power, while other times they may attack the artist directly.
On the other hand, music also has the power to amplify voices and promote language diversity. Marginalized communities can use song to teach others about their communities, histories, languages, and more. Global Voices has explored how Roma communities are leveraging music to gain inclusion in Czech society and how Dalit groups in India are sharing their stories and experiences as a form of community resistance. Similarly, there are Puerto Rican rappers working to challenge the hegemony of English in the United States music scene.
To celebrate the stories of music that seeks to change the world, the Global Voices Music Club meets on a monthly basis to discuss music-related stories, plan our music coverage, and simply share songs and musical inspiration from our regions and cultures. Through our global community, we share our musical traditions, offer recommendations and support, and impart our own musical experiences and histories.
Would you like to contribute? For more information about Global Voice’s Music Club email our Music Club coordinator Sydney Allen.
Find our Spotify account here with playlists and song recommendations that pair with our music-themed articles and see some of our recent music stories below.
Stories about Music Club
Since music listeners have pivoted toward digital streaming platforms, Maia is one of the few artists who views vinyl records as more than just a novelty.
Alternative Kenyan music reached new audiences in 2020 as audiences sought a soundtrack that reflected their new upsidedown reality.
While the statement did not specifically mention the upcoming music festival, the event falls under the calendar days mentioned in the statement.
Kenya’s vinyl collectors community has reimagined the day they come together to share in the joy of buying, collecting and listening to all manner of Vinyl records.
An artist stirred controversy with her documentary film “Violence against women in domestic songs” where she examines violence against women portrayed through turbo-folk, pop, rap, and hip-hop songs.
Marley's shaping of Black consciousness, “lyrical activism,” representation of reggae and Rastafari, and his “One Love” philosophy were cited as part of the bid to make him a national hero.
Singer Svyatoslav Vakarchuk from the Ukrainian cult band Okean Elzy spoke to Global Voices about Russian celebrities, his urge to perform during the crisis and why writing music is impossible.
Nigerian young singers have continued in that revered tradition of singing against social injustice. The #EndSARS protest triggered their political consciousness, which hitherto, seemed to be experiencing a decline.
"Tabby’s killing is as senseless as it is tragic and leaves an awful void in the Jamaican music landscape."
The Kuti clan have fought tyrannical political leadership through music. Also, Nigerian musicians like Sonny Okosun, Majek Fashek and Onyeka Onwenu fought to release Nelson Mandela from prison.
Unlike artifacts whose functionality and value do not depend on the medium they can be accessed through, visual and sound recordings are subject to the vagaries of technology.
Having struggled with health issues and paid his dues in the soca music arena — he was told he was “too black,” “too fat” and “not marketable” — Blaxx's authenticity shone through.
The song and the video clip were published by the media company Vijesti which uses them for promotion of humanitarian actions to help Ukraine.
In Russia's invasion of Ukraine, culture and identity are at the center of the conflict. In this context, Ukrainian band "Okean Elzy" has stepped up to inspire the Ukrainian resistance.
With millions of views on Youtube, Puerto Rican rapper Residente makes a case for Latin America's struggle for human rights.
Over the years, artists around the African continent have used music to challenge governmental and military oppression. In Kenya and South Africa, protest songs were a key tool for liberation.
They were concerned about their futures, closed borders, and their livelihoods, but mostly for the friends and family they left behind. The fear of persecution still looms.
These banned songs from popular groups and musicians, though initially accepted by the authorities, ended up being sanctioned and/or banned altogether.
A selection of Latin American feminist anthems and songs to get you inspired on the International Day of Women