Chance the Rapper, John Legend, Paramore and More to Headline Karoondinha Festival Benefiting Great Causes

Chance the Rapper

By Kennedi Johnson

It’s music festival season! Coachella, South by Southwest, Bonnaroo, and Karoondinha. What’s that? You haven’t heard of the inaugural Karoondinha festival, yet? No worries—you have now! The festival will make its debut on July 21-23 at Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, and benefits several worthwhile non-profits.

The lineup is nothing short of spectacular, with more than 80 performing artists including Chance the Rapper, John Legend, Paramore, Leon Bridges, Young the Giant, Chromeo, Alessia Cara, the Roots, and more. There will also be a kick-off party with more live music and food on July 20. But before we delve into the music any further, let’s talk about the name.

Karoondinha, meaning “the land of shining waters,” was named by the peoples of the Seneca tribe. The land is quite the sight with more than 1,600 acres of breathtaking fields and all that comes with it: sunflowers, water caves, mountain lions, wolves, bison, bears, longhorn cattle, bighorn sheep. In fact, Karoondinha allows for festival goers to not only connect with the music, but also with its beautiful surroundings.

“Unlike many other festivals that take place near urban areas, Karoondinha is truly an immersive experience out in nature,” said the sibling Karoondinha founders Kaleena and Paul Rallis. “We designed Karoondinha to connect people: to the landscape, to each other, and to music.”

The festival is partnering with some terrific non-profits that support nature and wildlife conservation, the fight against hunger and serious illnesses, and music education. The Bestwick Foundation focuses on aiding locals who are struggling with cancer or other grave illnesses. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is dedicated to fighting America’s problem of hunger by helping those in need. It secures at least 40 million meals for Central Pennsylvania’s hungry citizens each year. The Wildlife for Everyone Foundation focuses on preserving Pennsylvanian habitats and wildlife, working to conserve its birds and mammals, provide wildlife education and outreach, conduct research, and restore damaged habitats.

To learn more about the new festival and purchase passes, click here.

Lady Gaga and Prince William Discuss Mental Illness in New Video

By James Pleasant

Pop superstar Lady Gaga and Prince William recently collaborated to discuss how to eradicate the stigma associated with mental health issues, in a video produced by the British Royal Family’s Heads Together campaign.

“There’s a lot of shame attached to mental illness,” said Gaga in the video when discussing her daily battle with mental illness. “You feel like something is wrong with you. In my life I go, ‘Oh my goodness, look at all these beautiful, wonderful things I have…I should be so happy,’ but you can’t help it if in the morning you wake up and you are so tired, you are so sad, you are so filled with anxiety and the shakes, and [revealing my mental illness] was like saying ‘this is a part of me and that’s okay.’”

During their FaceTime conversation, Prince William pointed out that mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s time to remove the stigma associated with mental health problem. “It’s time that everyone speaks up and really feels very normal about mental health,” he said. “It’s the same as physical health.”

The “Born This Way” singer is well-known for speaking out against stigmas and other social issues. In December 2016, Gaga penned an open letter that revealed her diagnosis and experiences with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“I seek to raise awareness that this mental illness affects all kinds of people, including our youth,” wrote Gaga in her letter. “I pledge not only to help our youth not feel ashamed of their own conditions, but also to lend support to those servicemen and women who suffer from PTSD.”

The Heads Together campaign, spearheaded by Prince William, Prince Harry, and Duchess Catherine, is designed to shed light on mental illness awareness, and end the negative associations and stigmas haunting those afflicted on a daily basis.

Earlier this year, Heads Together won the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year, which saw hundreds of runners racing in solidarity with people suffering from mental illness. In May, Heads Together launched a video series of interviews highlighting celebrities discussing their experiences with addiction and other mental illnesses.

About 4 million people around the world currently suffer from some type of mental illness, according to the World Health Organization. Despite available treatments, two-thirds of people with mental illness don’t seek help because of the stigma, discrimination, or financial reasons.

To learn more about Heads Together, click here.

Coachella Festival Offers Big Incentives to Festival-Goers for Going Green

Coachella-goers get big incentives for recycling

By Kennedi Johnson

It’s no surprise that this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival features an impressive array of headliners including Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar, who will descend on the famed California desert festival April 14-16 and 21-23. But just as impressive as the Coachella lineup is the festival’s commitment to environmental sustainability and getting festival-goers involved in impactful environmental initiatives.

Coachella is teaming up with the non-profit Global Inheritance to educate folks about important environmental issues facing our planet and to reduce the environmental impact of the festival. They’ve put together several creative initiatives, including the Energy FACTory exploratory museum, where people can learn how to make their own biodiesel, save money on their electric bills, and take alternatively fueled golf carts out for a spin!

They also created the now famous Carpoolchella initiative, which encourages those headed to the festival to carpool with four or more people. Those who participate not only reduce pollution by carpooling, but are also given the chance to score VIP Coachella passes for life.

Then there’s the Recycling Store, where you can trade empty bottles and cans for Coachella merchandise, ferris wheel rides, food, 2017 passes and more. All pretty sweet rewards for caring for the environment!

Animal lovers can take part in the Saving Nature Claw Machine game to learn how to sustain and rebuild animal/marine life habitats and earn points for merchandise. Meanwhile, the Polar Bear Dating Game gives you the chance to show off your ideas about saving the Arctic. If Ursus the Polar Bear is impressed, you can win a date with him and two backstage passes.

Be sure to keep an eye out for these awesome environmental initiatives during the two Coachella weekends of great music, activism, and education! Not only will you leave the festival talking about how you saw Kendrick perform live, but you just may go home emboldened and committed to environmental justice issues and sustainability.

For more information about Coachella and this year’s lineup, click here. For more information about Global Inheritance, click here.

Tenacious D, Weird Al, Members of OK Go and More to Perform ‘80s Hits at Sweet Relief Benefit Concert

Tenacious D will headline Sweet Relief's Strange 80s benefit concert

By James Pleasant

Don your best ‘80s gear and break out the Aqua Net because Sweet Relief’s Sweet 80s Benefit Concert is coming to town.

Actor Finn Wolfhard, who played Mike in the blockbuster Netflix series Stranger Things, will host Sweet Relief Musicians Fund’s inaugural “Strange 80s” benefit concert on May 14 at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, featuring performances by a slew of musicians and celebrities covering hit songs from the 1980s.

Tenacious D, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Sarah Silverman, members of OK Go, Taking Back Sunday, Velvet Revolver, Steel Panther, Filter, Anberlin, Goldfinger, Sugarcult, Anthrax, and more are set to perform — and we can only begin to guess which sweet ’80s tunes they’ll resurrect for the occasion.

TV stars Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters, The Goldbergs’ Hayley Orrantia and Stranger Things’ Chelsea Telmadge will also join Wolfhard and the others in this star-studded extravaganza.

All proceeds from the concert will go toward Sweet Relief’s continuing efforts to provide financial assistance and support to musicians in need due to illness, age, or disabilities.

An array of exclusive prizes will be awarded through a Silent Auction, and 250 winners will have the opportunity to attend a rooftop after-party featuring Rain Man from Krewella.

“As a career musician, Sweet Relief came to my rescue a few years back when I was severely injured in an attack,” said Matthew Leone, Sweet Relief global ambassador and bass guitarist. “Knowing intimately the paramount value of this work, we are humbled and grateful for the caliber of artists enlisted to participate in what will unquestionably be the best party and show of the year.”

Sweet Relief has been assisting musicians in need since 1993, when the organization was founded by singer-songwriter Victoria Williams.

Click here for tickets. VIP tickets can be bought on Crowdrise.

For more information about the Sweet 80s benefit concert, click here. To learn more about Sweet Relief, click here.

Musicians from Countries on Trump’s Travel Ban List Speak Out Ahead of Performance at ContraBanned: #MusicUnites SXSW Showcase

Khaled M.

By Tamara Syed

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival has always served as a melting pot of cultural movements and musical talents, but this year’s ContraBanned: #MusicUnites showcase is bound to be an especially resonant and meaningful event. The showcase will feature a slew of musicians representing the seven Muslim-majority countries banned by President Trump’s executive order, with the aim of uniting people and building bridges through music.

The stacked lineup for the March 17 show at Austin’s Palm Door includes Khaled M., a Libyan-American rapper with Chicago roots; Mamak Khadem, a world-renowned trance artist; and Syrian-American soul-funk powerhouse Bassel & the Supernaturals; Atlanta based, Somalia-bred duo Faarrow, who deliver a heavy-hitting blend of hip-hop and pop anthems; Mohsen Namjoo, known as “the Bob Dylan of Iran”; Dena El Saffar, a multi-instrumentalist with Iraqi roots; and the mind-melding electronic soundscapes of Tehran-via-London artist Ash Koosha.

Dubbed one of CNN’s “Most Interesting People,” rapper Khaled M. pointed out that the travel ban has a negative and terrifying affect on U.S.-born citizens as well as foreign nationals. “Trump’s ban affected so many more people than just non-U.S. citizens,” he told Music for Good. “That group suffers the worst of it, but your average citizen doesn’t understand the psychological torture of being in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear.”

Khaled also touched on the underlying propaganda he sees in the executive order. “The ban creates a domino effect of fear that moves on to other marginalized or immigrant communities who worry about being next, considering the established precedent,” he said. Despite this, Khaled hopes that unifying events such as these will help shed a positive light on his Libyan heritage and bring people together. “Despite being subjected to oppression that rivals any other country, Libyans continue to be amongst the most hospitable and friendly people in the world,” he said.

Mamak Khadem

Iranian-American Mamak Khadem, who blends traditional Persian poetry and vocals with cross cultural influences of Indian, Balkan and Indonesian melodies, believes the ban is history repeating itself. “It reminded me of how the Iranian students were treated here in the U.S. during the hostage crisis of 1979,” she said. “Many students were insulted, deported, battered, and threatened. It took many years to forget and forgive those days and finally call myself an Iranian-American.”

Khadem has contributed to the advancement of music on a global scale, having taught classes and workshops in the U.S., Canada, Greece and Ireland. Not surprisingly, she believes musicians play a crucial role in the world of politics. “Music offers a language that is close to people’s hearts rather than their brain,” she said. “Music offers tools to break boundaries that politics has forced on us.”

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Whole Planet Foundation Teams Up with Shani Rose & Katie Ferrara for Tour to Support Women Entrepreneurs

(L-R) Katie Ferrara & Shani Rose team up with Whole Planet Foundation for Road Less Traveled Tour

By Laura Ferreiro

While most people may not see many similarities between independent musicians and small business owners, it’s surprising just how many things they have in common. Independent musicians and entrepreneurs must both find creative ways of using their talents to establish their careers and generate income for themselves and their families, both need to promote their work to potential audiences and customers, and there’s no denying that they often encounter many obstacles along the way that they need to overcome in order to succeed.

These similarities were immediately apparent to singer-songwriters Shani Rose and Katie Ferrara, who are embarking on the Road Less Traveled Tour in partnership with Whole Planet Foundation to support their efforts to alleviate poverty by providing microloans to entrepreneurs around the world. The tour supports the Foundation’s Musicians for Microcredit program, which gives people the chance to create or expand home-based businesses and lift themselves out of poverty. “As woman entrepreneurs in the music industry, we really connected with the work Whole Planet Foundation does with women entrepreneurs around the world, helping them kick-start their dreams and fund their businesses,” Rose told Music for Good.

The tour kicks off in their hometown of Los Angeles on March 8, and will hit cities including Phoenix and Tucson, culminating in two performances at the South by Southwest Festival March 17 and 18. They will play free shows at Whole Foods Market locations in each city, bringing attention to the Musicians for Microcredit program and donating a portion of their merchandise sales to help a family access a loan.

Whole Planet Foundation was excited to help facilitate Rose and Ferrara’s Road Less Traveled tour. “Musicians, like the entrepreneurs who receive microcredit loans, are doing something they love and might need some help along the way,” said Olivia Hayden, Digital Fundraising Specialist for Whole Planet Foundation.

“Shani and Katie are thinking outside the box and perhaps opening doors for more musicians to do the same,” Hayden added. “They’re business women who want to inspire women to follow their dreams. They’re creating their own success and want to encourage other entrepreneurial women all over the world to create their own success. So we wanted to help.”

Rose said that she and Ferrara immediately liked the idea of partnering with Whole Planet Foundation after being approached by the foundation to collaborate on the Musicians for Microcredit program. “Music is a great conveyor of messages and way to let people know about things, so I thought it was a great idea for them to create this partnership,” Rose said. “I was looking for a way to volunteer and give back and do something that was bigger than me and my music, so it came at the exact right time.”

What’s more, Rose’s song “Stronger Together” seemed to embody one of the Foundation’s primary missions of working together to support one another and make each other stronger. Many of Whole Planet Foundation’s microfinance partners utilize the Grameen method of lending, where borrowers belong to solidarity groups who meet once per week to make their loan repayments, ask questions, and share business advice. Rather than trying to make it alone, these borrowers are stronger together as they are able to support each other through their weekly meetings and relationships with other entrepreneurs.

For complete Road Less Traveled tour dates, click here. To learn more about the Whole Planet Foundation, click here, and the Musicians for Microcredit program, click here.

Jack Johnson’s 2017 Tour to Support 140 Non-Profits & Champion Greening Efforts

Jack Johnson with his customized reusable water bottle. Photo: Max Tischler

By James Pleasant 

Singer-songwriter and environmental activist Jack Johnson is back on the road for the first time since 2014 for a North American summer tour, which kicks off June 17 in Chicago and makes its way to the West Coast with a stop at the Hollywood Bowl on July 16.

Johnson’s 2017 tour will support more than140 non-profits through his environmental campaign and social action network, All At Once. One of the primary aims of Johnson’s tour is to provide greener alternatives during his shows in order to lessen their impacts on the environment and the cities in which he’s performing.

Since 2007, all of Johnson’s shows have offered concert-goers free water courtesy of water refill stations in order to curb the use of disposable plastic.

In 2014, the “Banana Pancakes” singer launched the Reusable Pint Program, an initiative designed to provide fans with alternatives to plastic cups and bottles. Instead, fans can purchase stainless steel cups, and as an added bonus, those who buy the cups receive discounts on beverage refills.

In addition, Johnson is implementing many other greening efforts in his 2017 summer tour. Sustainable bio-diesel tour vehicles, recycling, composting, and eco-friendly merchandise are just some of the programs that will help lessen the tour’s impact on the environment. The tour will also source local, organic food as part of a “farm to stage” program, offer alternative transportation incentives and bike valets.

Throughout his career, Johnson has made environmental activism a top priority and uses his platform as a popular artist to make a difference. “Growing up [in Hawaii] I had a profound love for the natural world and the environment and the ocean,” Johnson told Music for Good last year.

“As I got older, I found myself in this position [as a musician] where I suddenly had the ability to gather lots of people at once.” Since then, Johnson has creatively leveraged his public platform to inform people about how they can implement positive change in their communities, and has “walked the walk,” donating 100 percent of the profits from his tours between 2008-2013 to environmental nonprofit organizations.

He also founded two nonprofits—Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, which supports charitable organizations that focus on the environment, art and music education, and Kokua Hawaii Foundation, which funds environmental education for schools in Hawaii and teaches children about health and nutrition.

To learn more about the All At Once tour and campaign and get involved, click here. For tour dates and tickets, click here.

Listen to Johnson’s new tune, “Fragments.”

Environmentally Themed Festival Features Solange, Skrillex, Future Islands and More

Solange

By Kennedi Johnson

FORM Arcosanti – a unique, environmentally sustainable music festival held in Arizona’s high desert – is being dubbed the festival of the future. Held on the grounds of Arcosanti about 65 miles north of Phoenix from May 12-14, the environmentally conscious festival reflects the values of the Arcosanti community, which are rooted in the blended idea of ecology and archeology.

The festival boasts an impressive lineup curated by indie pop band Hundred Waters and soul purveyor Moses Sumney, which features Solange, James Blake, Father John Misty, Future Islands, Skrillex, Chelsea Wolfe, Noname, Deafheaven, Tycho, Kelela, Mitski, Omar Souleyman and others.

FORM Arcosanti Festival

What’s more, environmentalist organization Pathway to Paris will lead a series of talks on environmental sustainability and accountability. Festival attendees can also view art exhibits and participate in hiking, group yoga, and other outdoor activities.

The festival’s themes of environmental awareness, social justice and creativity are geared to inspire and motivate the festivalgoers’ own environmental activism in their communities.

A group of 1,500 will be selected to attend the festival. To apply, submit a short application on the FORM website. All selected applicants will receive an Eventbrite code to obtain tickets, which include on-site camping and amenities.

Italian architect Paolo Soleri founded the Cosanti Foundation with his wife, Colly, to support his noted architectural and urban planning research. Soleri became deeply disillusioned with the urban planning of his time. He felt that the planning took no account of what the buildings, houses, and roads were being built on: the Earth. In 1970, Soleri began construction of Arcosanti to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the Earth. To learn more about this environmental friendly community, watch the 2012 documentary, The Vision of Paolo Soleri: Prophet in the Desert.

To learn more about the festival and apply for tickets, click here. To learn more about Arcosanti, click here.

Bandcamp Teams Up with Artists and Labels to Support the ACLU

Xiu Xiu pledge to donate 100% of Bandcamp sales to the ACLU for 4 years

By James Pleasant

More than 400 labels and artists joined Bandcamp to support millions of immigrants and refugees by donating proceeds from sales of their music on the online music store to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Music fans, record labels, and artists helped raise an overwhelming amount of money for the civil rights organization on February 3. Fans bought more than $1,000,000 worth of music in one day—550% more than the website sells on a regular Friday. Bandcamp donated 100% of its proceeds to ACLU, totaling approximately $120,000.

Artists and labels usually keep 88% of the money they earn from selling their music on Bandcamp, however many of them donated their profits from that day. SubPop, Rhymesayers, Speedy Ortiz, P.O.S., Four Tet, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, and Merge Records are among the hundreds of labels and musicians that made additional donations to the fundraiser.

Experimental rock bands Xiu Xiu and Son Lux, in particular, have pledged to donate 100 percent of their Bandcamp revenue to the ACLU for the next four years. Other bands hand-selected charities they want to support, donating their sales proceeds to Doctors Without Borders, Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations.

The fundraiser is Bandcamp’s response to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order, which closed U.S. borders to citizens and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

“[The ban] is an unequivocal moral wrong, a cynical attempt to sow division among the American people, and is in direct opposition to the principles of a country where the tenet of religious freedom is written directly into the Constitution,” said Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond in a statement on Bandcamp’s website.

“This is not who we are, and it is not what we believe in,” he added. “We at Bandcamp oppose the ban wholeheartedly, and extend our support to those whose lives have been upended.”

For a full list of artists and labels participating in this fundraiser, and to lend your support by purchasing their music, click here.

Keb’ Mo’, Ronnie Spector & Non-Profits Put Music Education Front and Center at NAMM 2017

NAMM 2017 drew record numbers to Anaheim Convention Center. Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM

By Laura Ferreiro

A record number of musicians, non-profits, music technology and equipment brands descended on NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) 2017, making it the largest in the conference’s 115-year history. Held at the Anaheim Convention Center January 19-22, NAMM brought together more than 100,000 attendees to geek out on the latest music gear, network, jam and support good causes.

In addition to upholding its reputation as a musician’s playground, NAMM 2017 also supported vital music education programs in various ways, such as providing funding and instruments for music programs in local schools, and bringing together non-profit partners to promote their work, share best practices and more. This year, a record 57 non-profits, 10 partners and 18 NAMM Foundation grantees attended the first annual series of non-profit roundtable discussions.

Keb’ Mo’ and Bernie Williams chat with NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen

What’s more, the NAMM Foundation’s second annual Grand Rally for Music Education took place Saturday, January 21, featuring Keb’ Mo’ and Bernie Williams. Speaking with NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen, Keb’ Mo’ talked about the importance of simply showing up and setting a good example for the kids he mentors at the Turnaround Arts School where he teaches.

“What do I do? I show up,” Keb’ Mo told the audience. “When you see someone doing something, it’s profound without you even realizing it.”

He encouraged anyone with a passion for music to take action. “While we’re waiting for politicians to make these music programs, we can do it ourselves in our own towns,” he said. “There’s instruments sitting in the back of pawn shops that you can fill music classes with.”

Meanwhile, renowned musical accessories manufacturer D’Addario & Co. attended NAMM not only to show off their latest guitar strings, but also to promote the D’Addario Foundation, which has worked for 30 years to bring access to quality music education programs to children from all walks of life.

“Our main goal is to support grassroots, community-based programs, and ensure that as many communities as possible have access to music education,” said Suzanne D’Addario Brouder, D’Addario Foundation Director. D’Addario & Co. gives 10 percent of its net profits each year to more than 200 grassroots music programs around the world through the Foundation.

Citing decreased high school drop out rates and higher college attendance rates among students who participate in D’Addario-Foundation-funded programs, Brouder explained, “We’re using music as a catalyst for social change.”

Ronnie Spector performs at NAMM show celebrating 20th anniversary of John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM

What’s more, long-time NAMM attendee The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus celebrated its 20th anniversary at the conference this year with an Imagine Party on Saturday night featuring veteran R&B group Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes, and a special introduction by Jackson Browne. They also offered tours of the John Lennon Bus, where students have access to state-of-the art recording and production equipment, attend workshops, and are offered the opportunity to produce their own music and videos. To the delight of those aboard the bus that afternoon, Spector was there to teach the kids a few lessons!