Song-in-action Blog

Posts Tagged ‘music communities’

Help Wyclef & Yele Haiti with Earthquake Relief

Posted by Katina on January 14, 2010 at 4:12 am

Musician & Humanitarian Wyclef Jean is well known for his dedication to his homeland Haiti. He founded the non-profit Yele Haiti as a grassroots movement to build global awareness for Haiti while helping the country’s long term growth.


As you know Haiti has been devastated by the recent earthquake. Her citizen’s need help now and Yele Haiti is mobilizing emergency relief. How can you help? Donate to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund at http:/home/katinara/public_html/ or use your cell phone to text “Yele” to 501501.

Because I think Wyclef says it best, please check out his plea for assistance recently posted on the Yele Haiti website:

“Haiti today faced a natural disaster of unprecedented proportion, an earthquake unlike anything the country has ever experienced.

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake – and several very strong aftershocks – struck only 10 miles from Port-au-Prince.

I cannot stress enough what a human disaster this is, and idle hands will only make this tragedy worse. The over 2 million people in Port-au-Prince tonight face catastrophe alone. We must act now.

President Obama has already said that the U.S. stands ‘ready to assist’ the Haitian people. The U.S. Military is the only group trained and prepared to offer that assistance immediately. They must do so as soon as possible. The international community must also rise to the occasion and help the Haitian people in every way possible.”

Many people have already reached out to see what they can do right now. We are asking those interested to please do one of two things: Either you can use your cell phone to text “Yele” to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund (it will be charged to your cell phone bill), or you can click here to DONATE.

Thank you,
Wyclef ”

In this time of need, please take the time to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti.


P.S. Please also consider donating to the efforts of the Convoy of Hope and Doctors Without Borders earthquake response. Both organizations are also on the ground in Haiti providing needed relief services.


Montgomery Gentry gives thanks to our troops

Posted by Katina on November 24, 2009 at 1:49 am

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” –Maya Angelou

This year I had the opportunity to work with a team of five other women on a project to raise awareness for our Nation’s wounded warriors. As of Nov. 23, 2009 over 36,000 soldiers were injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Many organizations and government agencies have online resources for wounded warriors including the Wounded Warrior Resource Center (Department of Defense) and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Wounded Warrior Project

The last time I went to visit my family in South Carolina, I stopped en route at Cracker Barrel, my favorite roadside restaurant. I always like to shop there because I can find cool trinkets and they sell my favorite peanut brittle. What do you ask does Cracker Barrel have to do with wounded warriors? As I walked through the restaurant’s store they were playing a song by country music duo Montgomery Gentry. When the song ended, they made an announcement that Cracker Barrel had teamed with Montgomery Gentry to raise awareness and funds for the Wounded Warrior Project. It turned out that part of the proceeds from Montgomery Gentry’s album For Our Heroes sold in Cracker Barrel will go to the Wounded Warrior Project. Click here to buy a copy online.

For Our Heroes

Montgomery Gentry consists of Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry. The duo is well known for their philanthropic efforts with the T. J. Martell Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Camp Horsin’ Around, and Farm Aid. Their efforts to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project are part of Montgomery Gentry’s commitment to telling the stories of America’s heroes.

The main objective of the Wounded Warrior Project is to “provide tangible support for the severely wounded and help them on the road to healing, both physically and mentally.” One of their signature projects is the WWP Packs program that delivers backpacks containing care items (clothing, toiletries, calling card, CD player, etc.) to severely wounded warriors arriving at military trauma centers.  For more information on the Wounded Warrior project follow them on Twitter or check out their website.


Montgomery Gentry’s commitment to supporting the troops also includes a collaboration with the USO and the Vault for the “The Uniform of Heroes: The Taste of Support” campaign. Since the DOD suspended the “Any Servicemember” mail program, the Vault & USO have come up with a campaign that allows people to send pre-addressed postcards to soldiers. These postcards are available at Vault displays across the nation, Vault fridge packs and  The campaign provides the postcards and consumers (like you) provide the postage, the messages, and the manpower to drop the cards in the mail.

“These messages will go a long way in bringing comfort and lifting the spirits of our troops, especially those who are a world away from home.” Neil Golson, VAULT Brand Manager, Coca-Cola North America.

On the Montgomery Gentry website, Troy is quoted, “We’re proud to continue the effort to support our U.S. troops, and it’s exciting to partner with VAULT on this important campaign once again. . .VAULT and the USO have created a great way to spread goodwill and offer our thanks to the brave men and women serving our country. We hope thousands of people will get involved again this year.”


As we approach Thanksgiving, supporting the Wounded Warriors Project and the Uniform of Heroes campaign provide us with the two ways to let the our troops know how much we appreciate them.


P.S. Remember “Freedom is Never Free” – Unknown

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library promotes love of reading

Posted by Katina on October 20, 2009 at 2:11 am

“My daddy was more proud of the kids calling me the book lady than them calling me a star.” Dolly Parton

Everybody that knows me well  knows that I adore Dolly Parton. Always have since I was a little girl and my mom would let me listen to her country music collection. It throws people off when I tell them that Dolly’s my role model. HHHM they say. Don’t you write about hip hop? Aren’t you well . … Black? Why yes I am, have been for a very long time. But good music and good examples know no racial or cultural boundaries. Growing up I loved Dolly because she appeared fearless. She spoke how she liked, wore what she liked and she had great big hair. Over the years I have grown to appreciate Dolly’s sense of community and commitment to improving the lives of children.

One of my favorite Dollyisms is:  “It makes you feel better about your success if you don’t just hoard all that money. I always pray to God, ‘well, give me enough to share and enough to spare.’”



And that’s what she’s done. Dolly is a well known philanthropist dedicated to improving the quality of life “back home”. Providing jobs is one of the reasons why she placed her Dollywood theme park in the Smokey Mountains. “I knew Dollywood would be a great business for me, but I also knew it would generate a lot of money in that area and provide jobs. That’s true success-when everybody’s making money.”

Even though Dolly and her husband Carl Dean don’t have any children of their own, her dedication and love of children is clear. Perhaps one of Dolly’s most lasting contributions to the world is the founding of the Imagination Library in 1996 to encourage preschool children to love reading. Each month, the Imagination Library mails a brand new age appropriate book to every child under 5 in her home county – starting with The Little Engine that Could until the child receives Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come at age 5.

What I love about the Imagination Library is that Dolly took on providing books to children in one county and then the idea spread around the country and now is being replicated around the world. Now that’s Song-in-Action. Over 6 million books are expected to be distributed to children through the Imagination Library and its local affiliates in 2009. Communities that wish to provide books through the Imagination library first determine their geographic area (town, district, even a whole state) in which they wish to distribute the books. Then they establish their local affiliate, raise funds, and start helping kids love to read for a lifetime.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

To Learn more about the Imagination Library, see http:/home/katinara/public_html/ Follow @Dolly_Parton on Twitter.

This blog post was inspired by my mother who turned me on to Dolly when I was little and gave me the great article “How Dolly Does it” by Meg Grant in AARP The Magazine from which I located the quotes above.

Teachers Perform! MTAB supports local food bank and music scholarships

Posted by Katina on October 5, 2009 at 3:56 am

I was raised in Bowie, Md. Last week, my mom received a call from my high school voice teacher Mrs. G asking if we wanted to join her for a recital today. Mom and I love Mrs. G, we’ve adopted her years ago as an honorary grandmother. So when she called, we said sure we’ll be there, no questions asked. The event turned out to be such a blessing – not only did I get to hear great music, I was able to particpate in an example of Song-in-action. The recital, “Teachers Perform!” was organized by the Music Teachers Association of Bowie. It had a music community (the music teachers) and a cause (raising scholarship funds for students to take music lessons and collecting food for the Bowie Interfaith Pantry and Emergency Fund).

If you would like to donate to either of these causes, check out their links above. The pantry is currently in need of school supplies, canned foods, and monetary contributions.


P.S. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

Mrs G. sings Summertime

Mrs G. sings Summertime

Dropping Knowledge: The theory behind the Song-In-Action blog

Posted by Katina on at 2:01 am

I have taught a class on the politics of popular music for almost ten years now – first to freshman at Duke University and most recently to graduate students in the Communications, Culture, and Technology program at Georgetown University. My favorite part of the course is the unit on Music as Political Action. I developed the unit based around Mark Mattern’s book Acting-in-Concert: Music, Community, and Political Action.  Mark theorizes that there are three separate, but often overlapping types of music-as-politics or Acting in Concert:  confrontational political action (ex. protest music), deliberative political action (i.e. debates/arguments/conversations around important issues) and pragmatic political action (i.e. doing something about it).

Mark’s work on pragmatic political action is the inspiration for this blog. He breaks the concept down as collaborative problem solving.  In the case of music-related pragmatic political action, music communities work together to first draw attention to shared interests, problems, or concerns, and then organize to address them.

There are many examples of pragmatic political action within music communities. Mark’s examples include the organization of Cajuns to address “economic marginalization, ethnic stigma, and cultural assimilation.” Years ago in “From the margins to the mainstream: the political power of hip hop,” I wrote about movements like Stop the Violence (STV) which was aimed at discouraging black-on-black crime and Rap-the-Vote .

Since teaching the pragmatic political action concept in my music and politics classes, a thought kept nudging me. How can I improve on an already great concept? Song-in-Action is this attempt. Mark’s work is really community focused and that’s appropriate for his work. But I was struck by the idea that it only takes one person to make a difference. Think about it. If one person can take a stand and make a start, others will follow behind.

The Song-in-action blog will expand pragmatic political action to include the idea that a single song (or person, or dream) can serve as the foundation for community, political, or social change.  It’s a work in progress; as the blog evolves let me know what you think. In later blogs, I plan to revisit how different groups within the hip-hop community join forces to become agents of social change.  I also plan to highlight the country music community, pop artists, rock stars, music teachers, fans of all sorts, and much more.



P.S. If you know of an example of a single person or groups making a difference through music, email me or tweet me! I would love to write about it or offer the opportunity for you to guest-blog on Song-in-Action.

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