MUSIC x ACTIVISM
Earlier this year, I was invited by Instructor Jocelyn Arem on behalf of the School of the New York Times' Pop Music As Art and Business Class to co-curate a day on music and activism. On July 17th, we did exactly that in the theatre at Sony/ATV in New York City. For a class of 23 students and faculty from the New York Times, we slowed down to share stories and ponder what meaning this phrase holds for the teen generation: music and activism.
I brought along Allison Strickland and we started the morning with a grounding meditation. This was followed by listening to Rich Christina share his story and then a discussion with Rich, Sam Reas (Sony/ATV) and songwriter Erika Sirola.
When it came to question time, the kids got right down to business: What was it like to be a woman in the music business? There was a discussion of competition versus collaboration, how to lift each other up, and the power of narrative in who we are becoming. Erika shared a story about Linda Perry, which led to a discussion on how we can better support girls in the music production field.
The kids asked about what their elders in the music business are doing to advocate for mental wellness? For better leadership? How do they galvanize community for young musicians?
The kids were all aged 16-17 and my goodness are they are bright and aware, so listen up!
What was the core lesson that I drew from the day? We must put our baggage down, so that they won't have to pick it up.
My take-away is in responsibility. Looking at all those student faces, I was reminded of what a great responsibility we have to care for them and bring them into a better future. This means that our respective generations need to learn skills for how to grapple with the issues that they will face. For me, our day highlighted how activism is the small daily act: taking little micro pro-active steps, rather than reactive ones.
For example: are you really into supporting executive development for women at your company? Pick up the phone and make one phone call each day for a female executive you believe in. Do it for 2 weeks. Each day make one new introduction and/or advocate with value-adding actions. In 2 weeks, that's growth my friend!
A big thanks to Sony/ATV for hosting such a brilliant day, and to Elicia Felix-Hughey and Crystal Mary Willingham (from the HR team) for working with us to make it happen. Special mention to Shaugnessy Elsroth for her slick project management skills. Major gratitude to the New York Times for getting behind this important idea, and to Jocelyn Arem and Ben Sisario along with their TA/RA team Tim Leonard and Spencer Rex for making it manifest.