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Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back in Surprising Ways

on August 01, 2013, 9:55am
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charity600 Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back in Surprising Ways

For $200,000, Jack White could have bought a Ferrari. Or 40,000 six-packs of PBR. Or a racing pigeon. Instead, he used the money to help start the Music Preservation Foundation. And this comes mere months after he stepped in and saved the Detroit Masonic Temple from foreclosure. Even Kanye West is feeling generous lately. This week he founded a non-profit called Donda’s House whose purpose is to “implement arts, health/wellness, and literature experiences that transform youth.” But whether resources are weighted more toward big pockets or big hearts, plenty of musicians and artists find ways to give back. Here’s a rundown of the not only musical, but charitable.

Taylor Swift

taylorswift Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back in Surprising Ways

Why? Taylor Swift made Forbes’ list of the 30 Most Generous Celebrities for donating $625,000 to various charities in Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

Best Example: The bulk of that money– $500,000 to be exact– went to Hands on Nashville for flood relief efforts. –Erin Carson

Jack Johnson

jack johnson

Why? Along with wife Kim, Jack Johnson has created multiple organizations dedicated to environmental causes, including the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, the All At Once Campaign and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation.

Best Example: One hundred percent of the profits from Johnson’s upcoming tour have been pledged to charity. It’s not the first time he’s done this. –Frank Mojica

Emmy the Great

emmythegreat e1361747586255 Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back in Surprising Ways

Why? Where to begin! Emmy the Great, aka Emma-Lee Moss, has been actively involved with Strummerville, which brings support and opportunities to aspiring artists that would not otherwise have access to them, and Billy Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors, which hosts music workshops for rehabilitating female prisoners. She has also been the public face of WaterAid at Bestival and Glastonbury, blogging, vlogging, tweeting, and interviewing/recruiting artists on their behalf.

Best Example: Her 2011 album Virtue was made with the help of crowd-sourcing via PledgeMusic, but 10% of the pledge total went to the Enough Project, an organization dedicated to ending genocides. One hundred percent of the proceeds for some of the most enticing pledge rewards went to charities such as Amnesty International and WaterAid. –Frank Mojica

Emmylou Harris

 Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back in Surprising Ways

Why? In 2004, Emmylou Harris established Bonaparte’s Retreat, a shelter for dogs that the Nashville Humane Association consider “unadoptable.” She organizes benefit concerts (like this year’s 2nd annual Woofstock), adoption days, and other events to raise awareness for the dogs and the organization.

Best Example:  More than 200 dogs have been placed in permanent homes. –Erin Carson


moby capblackard Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back in Surprising Ways

Why? Famed for the sync-success of 1999’s Play, Moby launched mobygratis.com in 2008 as a resource for independent and non-profit filmmakers or film students to use select tracks from his discography in their independent/non-profit works free of costly sync fees. If those projects do generate money, or a commercial release uses the resource, all of Moby’s possible royalties are diverted directly to the Humane Society.

Best Example: Director Lucy Walker used mobygratis.com to score the Oscar-nominated Waste Land — an uplifting feature-length documentary highlighting the transformative power of art and the beauty of the human spirit. –Derek Staples

Foster the People


Why? Foster the People are true to their name. The Los Angeles band helped start an organization called Foster the Future, meant to inspire young folks to do volunteer work.

Best Example: One of their initiatives is the Do Good Bus. There are a few ways to get a seat, but the basic idea is to load up 30 people and head off to a service project for the day. –Erin Carson

Rob Thomas

robthomas Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back in Surprising Ways

Why? Rob Thomas and his wife Marisol founded the Sidewalk Angels Foundation in 2003. The organization connects no-kill animal shelters and rescues with funds. They also work with organizations dealing with homelessness and childhood health issues.

Best Example: In 2012, the couple donated the money to establish a Pets Alive animal sanctuary in Utado, Puerto Rico. Very shortly after opening, the sanctuary had already taken in six dogs and 41 puppies. –Erin Carson

Steve Earle

steve earle Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back in Surprising Ways

Why? Bred in Texas and an alt-country legend, Steve Earle has become an unlikely hero within capital punishment opposition. In 2010, Earle was awarded the “Shining Star of Abolition” by The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for his work with opposition organizations and open activism within his songwriting. A man of many convictions, Earle has also raised money to benefit autism research, New Orleans post-Katrina, Vietnam Veterans, Native Americans, Unions, and Tibet. Earle may be vocal about his beliefs, but he has never been one to promote these many contributions.

Best Example: In 2009, Earle along with the likes of Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Moby, and Cindy Lauper performed “He Needs A Kidney” on NBC’s 30 Rock to benefit the National Kidney Foundation. Earle’s songs are often quite serious, but he is always willing to have a fun time for a great cause. –Derek Staples

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club


Why? Black Rebel Motorcycle Club established a section of their website called Other Things That Matter where they list information about causes and non-profits they support. They’ve also reached out to fans via email in the past to solicit donations or help, like in the case of 2011’s Aid Japan Charity Auction. They offered a cymbal signed by Peter Hayes, Robert Been, and Leah Shapiro, as well as a limited edition vinyl set. Proceeds went to disaster relief after the earthquakes in Japan.

Best Example: In interviews, Hayes has discussed activism driven by everyday choices, like thinking about what you wear. They partnered last year with Not For Sale, an organization that raises money and awareness to combat human trafficking and slavery. Bands like BRMC can design and sell NFS t-shirts while on tour (or on the organization’s website) to benefit NFS programs. –Erin Carson

Paul McCartney

paulmccartneypeace Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back in Surprising Ways

Why? Paul McCartney’s been closely associated with Adopt-a-Minefield, an organization that raises money and awareness in order to clear minefields in countries like Vietnam, Laos, Iraq, and Afghanistan, to name a few. Money also goes to aid those injured by land mines.

Best Example: He’s involved in the annual Adopt-a-Minefield benefit gala which attracts artists like Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Neil Young. –Erin Carson

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