By James Pleasant
Musicians across the U.S. are rallying to donate much-needed clean water and funds to help the citizens of Flint, Michigan during the city’s deadly water crisis, which has already contaminated thousands of residents with extremely high levels of lead.
The water crisis finally received national media coverage earlier this month after President Obama declared a federal state of emergency, following a Virginia Tech study of the city’s water quality, and a string of class-action lawsuits.
Pop singer Cher, with the help of the Icelandic Glacial bottled water company, is donating 181,440 bottles of water to the residents of Flint. Cher has been outspoken about the crisis on social media, criticizing Michigan’s elected officials for their negligence in handling the issue.
“This a tragedy of staggering proportion and shocking that it’s happening in the middle of our country…I cannot wait for the water to get there to help these people who have been poisoned because the water they’ve been getting out of their taps has been polluted for so long and remains that way without the state or the federal government stepping in with any substantial plan to resolve this problem,” said Cher in a statement.
The water will be distributed by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to other foodbanks, community centers and low-income housing areas throughout Flint – a city in which 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
Jack White’s record label, Third Man Records, is also lending a helping hand. It organized a water drive in Flint, and launched a campaign to raise money for relief efforts. The label is encouraging people to donate to its Crowdrise fundraiser and is offering a grand prize to one lucky donor. The grand prize winner will become a Platinum Vault Subscriber for the next 5 years and receive 20 free packages with all types of merchandise and memorabilia from the label.
All of the donations will go to the United Way of Genesee County Flint Water Fund. The money will be used to purchase water filters, bottled water and emergency services, and the remaining donations will go towards the Flint Child Health and Development Fund—an initiative to help children poisoned by the contaminated drinking water.
Legendary grunge band Pearl Jam donated $125,000 to the United Way of Genesee County, and inspired several of their friends and partners such as Brandi Carlile’s Looking Out Foundation, Glasper Progress Foundation, Live Nation, Republic Records, Ticketmaster and Universal Music Publishing Group to donate an additional $175,000.
Pearl Jam is urging fans to donate to the cause via Crowdrise and have already raised $20,000.
Several artists in the hip-hop community have also stepped up to help Flint survive its deadly water crisis. Big Sean, a rapper from nearby Detroit, donated $10,000 with a fundraiser on Crowdrise called #HealFlintKids through his Sean Anderson Foundation to assist the Flint Child Health & Development Fund.
“I am devastated by the water crisis that has put the entire city of Flint in a state of emergency,” said Sean in a statement to the Detroit Free Press.
Big Sean’s campaign is also packed with incentives, and people who donate $10 or more will get a chance to win two VIP tickets to see the Detroit rapper in concert, complete with a meet-and-greet and photo opportunities.
Compton rapper The Game donated $500,000 to Flint, and promised that water bottle company Avita Water will donate an additional $500,000. The $1 million total donation will be facilitated by The Game’s charity The Robin Hood Project, which assists poverty-stricken families and individuals.
Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill also got in on the action and donated 600,000 bottles of water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and to the Flint Child Health & Development Fund.
Flint’s drinking water became contaminated in 2014, after the state switched the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, which was already notorious for being dirty, according to a report by CNN. A Virginia Tech study revealed that Flint River is 19 times more corrosive than Lake Huron, which caused old lead pipes to leak into the water supply.