When we think of popular music artists we tend to focus on their singing voice, and place their true voice on the backburner.
Throughout the music industry’s history numerous musicians and artists have been using their voice for more than just record production. People tend to judge a musician solely on their music, and overlook the message behind their music.
This seems to be a common conversation about music among young music enthusiasts.
“Why do you like that song?”
“ I like the music! It has a sweet beat and nice rhythm.”
I’m not making a hasty generalization about young listeners, and I know there are numerous music enthusiasts who understand the messages and voices of their favorite artist or band.
One voice that has permeated the musical industry is the political one.
In the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s one of the strongest political voices that spoke out against The War in Vietnam, violence, and racial injustice came from a skinny five foot seven kid from Minnesota. His weapon of choice: guitar. Bob Dylan is considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, and is known for his lyrical genius all over the world. His peaceful lyrics asking questions such as “How many years can some people exist, before they're allowed to be free?” and “And how many deaths will it take till we know, that too many people have died?” These questions challenged some of the major current issues in society and promoted the idea of political activism through music.
In the 21st century a strong voice made it’s way onto the main stage of political activism through outrageous wardrobes, elaborate showmanship, and her never ending desire to be proud that she was different. Lady Gaga is one of the strongest human rights activists in modern society. Born and raised in New York City, Stephani Germanotta was considered an outcast and a disenfranchised member of society. This would normally hinder some people’s plans of success, but Stephani Germanotta used this hatred to fuel the fire that propelled her into stardom. She adopted the stage name Lady Gaga, and made a lifelong commitment to embracing who she is, whomever that may be, and empowering others to do the same. In her new single “Born This Way,” Gaga tells her listeners “Don't hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you're set.” This empowering message of hope and self-confidence inspires numerous youth who feel outcast to embrace their differences and know that they are loved. Her main audience would be her “little monsters” (the millions of youth who identify with the LGBTQA community) and she constantly is giving speeches, tweeting about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and pressing for social change in the area of gay rights. “Born This Way” states that “No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life…I was born to survive.”
Just like the victimized and oppressed people of society the music industry has also fought to survive. Through the many ups and down throughout the years the political voice of those in the limelight also continues to survive, and provide powerful messages for its audiences.