Clearwater Festival with Tommy Sands, Pete Seeger, Toshi Reagon, Dar Williams and SONiA

Where is the music?

Music is very personal so I never make recommendations. However, many people have expressed frustration asking, "Where is the next generation of political songwriters?" or "Why aren't there any political singers?" One must be willing to look around, listen to people unfamiliar to the ear, take some risk.

Here are a few resources to help you get started. I am not going to limit the list to age or try to identify style but rather list artists who I know are, in one way or another, committed to social change. In any given recording, they might present 15 political songs or 2. For example, in my own work, if someone heard that I was a political artist and bought Crushed: The Love Song Collection, they would feel misled. So it's important not to make assumptions about artists. We are a wild bunch who, if we are any good at all, experiment and stretch and adventure away from any given stereotype. Yet the suggestions below are windows to what I hope will be some delightful discoveries for you. And this is just a drop in the bucket.

Feel free to send in the name of your favorite social change artist. Criteria: They must have accessible recordings. I am not going to screen the suggestions, so readers, you are on your own. I hope that people making submissions will do so with discretion. Where is the music? It is everywhere.

Art & Activism: Social Change Artists

Click each of the headings to reveal the text.


A few resources to get you going!

Sing Out Magazine
RockrGrl Magazine
People's Music Network

Artists: U.S. and Canada

I will start with Dr. Bernice Johnson ReagonBernice Johnson Reagon




And, in no particular order...

Pete Seeger
Buffy Sainte-Marie
Sweet Honey in The Rock
Toshi Reagon
Ember Swift
Pamela Means
Copper Wimmin
Joe Jencks
emma's revolution (Pat Humphries/Sandy O)
Wishing Chair
Nedra Johnson
Melanie deMoore
Cris Williamson
John McCutcheon
Linda Tillery and The Cultural Heritage Choir
Tao Rodriguez-Seeger and The Mammals
Arlo Guthrie and family
Liche Fuentes
Ronnie Gilbert
Cheryl Wheeler
Peggy Seeger
Laura Love
Deidre McCalla
Jennifer Berezan
MUSE (women's chorus in Cincinnati, Ohio)
Peter Paul and Mary
Steve Earle
Tish Hinojosa
Larry Long
Alice Gerrard
Bill Staines
David Roth
Peter Alsop
Mary Watkins
Rafael Manriquez
Elise Witt
Betsy Rose
Gary Lapow
Gerry Tenney
Bonnie Lockhart
Tom Chapin
Guy Davis
Cosy Sharidan
Bob Franke
Dar Williams
Ani DiFranco
Eliza Gilkyson
Lowen and Navarro
The Kennedys
Keb' Mo'
Kim and Reggie Harris
Zoe Lewis
Beverly Grant
Rosalli Sorrels
Sloan Wainwright
Tret Fure
The Klezmatics
Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer
Faith Petric
Lil' Rev
Greg Brown
Tom Waits
Anne Hills
Hazel Dickens
Indigo Girls
Janis Ian
Joan Baez
Amy Carol Webb
Amy Speace
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Robin Flower and Libby McClaren
Joan Baez
Kate Campbell
Libby Roderick
Jaimie Anderson
Ubaka Hill
John Trudell (spoken word)
Ellis Paul
Vance Gilbert
Christine Lavin
Catie Curtis
The Dance Brigade (no recordings but go see them!)
Leonard Cohen
Bill Steele
Jackson Browne
Judy Collins
Lucy Kaplansky
Sara Thomsen
Amy Martin
Tracy Grammer
Garnet Rogers
David Rovics
Peter Donnelly
Dangerous Folk
Radio Free Earth
Mary Wheelan
Kate Long
James Durst
The Work o' the Weavers
Ron Romanovsky
Four Bitchin' Babes
Dave Lippman
Lynn Frances Anderson
Colleen Kattau
José "Pepo" Saavedra
Carrrie Newcomer
Neil Young
Prince Myshkins
SONiA (yes spelled like that)
Chestnut Brothers
Kuumba Lynx
Charlie King and Karen Brandow
Francisco Herrera
Andrew McKnight
Big Wide Grin
Bruce Kunkel
Rod MacDonald
John Batdorf
Randall Williams
Ted Warmbrand
Georges Lammam
Karl Anthony
Michael Franti and Spearhead
Arjuna Griest
Melissa Crabtree
Rachael Kilgour
Green and Root
Eileen Hazel
Tracy Chapman
Bill Miller
Joanne Shenandoah
Bright Eyes
Faith Nolan
Joe Glazer
Si Kahn
Fred Small
Anne Feeney
Mark Erelli
Nanci Griffith
Bonnie Raitt
John Flynn
Country Joe McDonald
Len Chandler
Joe Uehlein
Richard Shindell
Roy Zimmerman
Evie Ladin and the Stairwell Sisters
Tret Fure


Artists: International

Just to get this list started...

Inti Illimani
Eduardo Peralta (Chile)
Ladysmith Black Mombaza (South Africa)
Youssou N'dour (Senegal)
Roy Brown (Puerto Rico)
Quilapayun (Europe/Chile)
Silvio Rodgriquez (Cuba)
Judy Small (Australia)
Tom Robinson (England)
Bruce Cockburn (Canada)
Billy Bragg (England)
Eric Bogle (Australia)
Yungchen Lhamo (Tibet)
The No Shit Shirleys (Vancouver BC)
Sara Gonzales (Cuba)
Simone Shaheen (USA/Near East)
Marcel Khalife (Lebanon)
Tommy Sands (Ireland)

Artists: Comic and Spoken Word

Kate Clinton
Lily Tomlin
Dick Gregory
Alix Olson



Artists: A Salute to Those Who Have Moved On

Out of our sight, but not out of mind...

Mercedes Sosa - Argentina (2009)
Nina Simone (2003)
Woody Guthrie(1967)
Freida Epstein (2003)
Phil Ochs (1976... he was 35 years old)
Kaye Gardner (2002)
June Jordan (2002)
Ossie Davis (2005)
Marion Anderson (1993)
Lee Hayes (2008)
Victor Jara - Chile (assassinated 1973)
Pablo Casals - Spain (1973)
Pablo Neruda - Chile (1973)
Paul Robeson (1976)
Odetta (2008)
Huddie William Ledbetter aka Lead Belly (1949)
Utah Phillips (2008)
Miriam Makeba (2008)
Bill Morrissey (2011)
Therese Edell (2011)
Odetta (2008)
Mary Travers (2009)
Gil Scott Heron (2011)
Hazel Dickens (2011)
Eric Lowen (2012)
Richie Havens (2013)
Jon Fromer (2013)