Gone are the days when pop stars were merely pretty faces with auto-tuned voices and neutral press statements. Today’s successful musicians are also outspoken ambassadors for social causes. With the rise of internet media, more and more celebrities are recognizing their influence and speaking out on issues that matter to them. This month, a handful of stars went a step beyond tweeting their opinions. In the face of various national crises, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, and Erykah Badu all donated money to different charitable organizations.
Here are the three causes that got these talented musicians to breathe life into the phrase, “put your money where your mouth is.”
Taylor Swift + Lady Gaga – Louisiana Flood Relief
Between the mounting absurdity of the Trump campaign and the action of the Rio Olympics, not much has been reported about the catastrophic flooding that is currently affecting thousands in Louisiana. Some areas of the state are facing up to 30 inches of rain with an estimated 40,000 homes being affected and at least 8,000 people in shelters. As of today, August 18th, the death toll has risen to 13. The Red Cross is calling the flooding, “The worst natural disaster to strike the US since Hurricane Sandy in 2012,” and has estimated that relief efforts will cost at least $30 million.
Mega-musicians Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga have both donated to flood relief efforts. Yesterday, on August 17th, Swift pledged $1 million, stating: “We began The 1989 World Tour in Louisiana, and the wonderful fans there made us feel completely at home. The fact that so many people in Louisiana have been forced out of their own homes this week is heartbreaking. I encourage those who can to help out and send your love and prayers their way during this devastating time.” Gaga took to social media to announce that she and her family will do their part in aiding in the crisis, she tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers to all of our loved ones in Louisiana suffering through the flood. My family & I are donating to relief efforts.”
Head over to the Red Cross’ website to see how you can help those affected by the flooding in Louisiana.
The Weeknd – Black Lives Matter
Abel Tesfaye AKA The Weeknd, has been an outspoken supporter of Black Lives Matter, the growing civil rights movement fighting anti-Black racism and police violence. Formed by activists, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors after George Zimmerman’s senseless killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, Black Lives Matter is described as “an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
In early July, in the wake of the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Tesfaye tweeted “Enough is enough. it’s time to stand up for this. we can either sit and watch, or do something about it. the time is now. #blacklivesmatter…. #BLUELIVESMURDER.” On August 11th, the “Often” and “Can’t Feel My Face” singer pledged $250,000 to Black Lives Matter, joining the ranks of musician’s like Jay-Z, whose music streaming service, Tidal, pledged $1.5 million to the cause earlier this year.
To learn more about Black Lives Matter, check out the website.
Erykah Badu – Rape Kit Testing
Last month, Neo-soul goddess, Erykah Badu, announced that proceeds from her Detroit concert would benefit the African American 490 Challenge (AA490), an organization working to test the city’s abandoned rape kit tests. Rape kits contain the materials that make it possible to gather evidence following a sexual assault but often the kits are back-logged and never processed. In 2009, more than 11,000 un-processed rape kits were found in Detroit police storage. 81% of the victims associated with the unprocessed rape kits are African American. This prompted the formation of AA490 and Enough SAID (Enough Sexual Assault in Detroit) Project. The volunteer women of AA490 are working to raise money in increments of $490 (the cost of processing a rape kit).
At her Detroit concert on August 12th, Erykah Badu went above and beyond her original donation, declaring that a portion of ticket sales of all future concerts will benefit AA490. She stated: “I pledge to raise the same amount of money with each show that I do until we raise this money, I’m with it. I think it’s one of the most important things I could do…I hope that this venture gives peace to some of us who are victims and some of us who are not.” Pre-sale tickets from the Detroit show raised $35,000. Testing of some of the rape kits, which date all the way back to 1984, have led to the identification of more than 500 serial rapists.
Visit the African American 490 Challenge website to learn more about the organization.