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MAR 20, 2013 - Several Michelle Shocked shows have been canceled after the singer, who has been known to "speak her mind" in the past, went on an anti-gay tirade the other night. Fans are outraged, and the blogosphere has not been kind to her. She was actually somewhat of a "gay icon" at one time, but not anymore after this stunt. Even after she tried to distance herself from her remarks, it looks like she may have burned a bridge. Check out the juicy details at Queerty.com here, and start up a discussion and tell us how you feel about this on our Justice Through Music Facebook Page here. Abby Huntsman from HuffPo Live has a video on the story below. (photo credit: CC/RKeaton)
AUG 18, 2012 - A woman protesting the Pussy Riot trial showed her disapproval by going topless and chain sawing down a crucifix in the capital city of Ukraine, Kiev, at the time the verdict was being read and it was all recorded on video and posted to YouTube by RT Russian. (JTMP recommends using Google Chrome so the Russian can be translated into English.) The cross was erected in 2005 on a hilltop overlooking Kiev, and had served as a memorial to the victim's of Stalinist oppression and the famine of the 1930s, and many people are very upset by this free speech action. 22 year old Inna Shevchenko, is a member of the activist group FEMEN, whose mission is "to create the most favorable conditions for the young women to join up into a social group with the general idea of the mutual support…", and some of their goals are, "To counteract actively the negative tendencies endangering physical and mental health of the Ukrainian women community. Inform the society of the Ukrainian women’s issues and problems." Find out more info about FEMEN here, and watch Inna and her very provocative free speech action below. (WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS BRIEF NUDITY)
From RT Russian's YouTube Channel:
"Activists of the women's movement FEMEN worship cross cut down on Independence Square in Kiev. Thus girls arrested participants expressed their support for the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, which today will be sentenced on charges of punk prayer service at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Vkontakte - http://vk.com/rt_russian Facebook - http://www .facebook.com / RTRussian Twitter - http://twitter.com/RT_russian Livejournal - http://rt-russian.livejournal.com/ "
July 31, 2012 - Young, progressive Russians, who used to flee to other countries to get away from the brutal oppression of free speech and dissent by the government, are now deciding to stay and try and change things at home. Most notably is the women punk musician-activist band Pussy Riot that is challenging free speech restrictions by doing "actions". 3 members of the band were arrested in February of 2012 and are now on trial for singing an anti-Putin song at the cathedral of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church. They face charges of "hooliganism" and face up to 7 years in prison. Even their spouses are being attacked, such as the husband of one of the women arrested, Pyotr Verzilov, who had a Canadian passport when he was attending school in Toronto years ago and the Russian government flashed an image of his passport on TV and called it evidence that he and his wife are trying to "tear Russia apart". Read more on WashPo here, and also there is a good article about the trial on NBCNews.com here.
They are all part of a movement called "Voina", a group consisting of artists, musicians and others that stage provocative actions deliberately meant to test the boundaries of their freedoms and liberties, and challenge the government's authority. They call this "polical protest art"; and at least 20 criminal investigations have been launched against the group and its members. The government of Russia says the Art group VOINA, "is a left-wing radical anarchist collective whose central goal is to carry out PR actions directed against the authorities..." Check out the org's website and read about the many political prisoners in Russia consisting of journalists, artists and even regular activists trying to bring about progressive change in Russia on their website: http://en.free-voina.org/.
The trial has divided old Russia against the youth, and even spilled over to America as protesters held a rally in front of the Russian embassy here in Washington, DC on July 28, 2012 to protest what they see as government overreach and oppression of free speech. NME.com reports that many musicians have spoken out against the detention and prosecution of the women, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Franz Ferdinand. Check back because JTMP will be posting on this issue regularly, and will also have a video out soon. (photo credits: CC\Wiki)
July 8, 2012 - Hip-hop artist Frank Ocean came out last week and announced he is either bi-sexual or gay (I am unsure) saying his "first true love was a man", and has not faced a feared backlash and uproar from the hip-hop world and fans. This was seen as a bold and risky move, some saying it would jeopardize his young career in the ultra-macho world of hip-hop. There were death threats and hate speech directed towards him on Twitter by some people which was to be expected, but mostly the uproar has not been there; maybe signaling a shift in attitudes towards homosexuality in the hip-hop world. Read more about it on NYTimes.com here. (Photo credit: Sweisscheese/Wiki)
MAY 25, 2012 - We came upon this nugget from one of the greatest American folk legends, Woody Guthrie. The "Dust Bowl Troubadour" was also one of the first musician activists speaking out about labor conditions for migrant workers. Listen to an early radio broadcast with Woody and friends singing, "All You Fascists 'Bound to Lose". (photo credit: Al Aumuller/Wiki)
JTMP Meets With International Visitors through State Department International Visitor Leadership Program
MAY 24, 2012 - JTMP has been a participant in the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program for 3 years now, where citizens from around the world involved in the arts get to come to America and visit to learn about the role of arts in the US. This year we had visitors that came from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia to see how Justice Through Music Project uses art to raise awareness on issues, and to bring about social change. This year's contingent had musicians, playwrights, and people involved in art production. We gave them a presentation and showed them many of our musical art videos that deal with politics and issues, while we spoke about how we operate and produce our art videos. We then showed them how we use this art on our website and YouTube channel to raise awareness on an issue to help bring about positive social change.
The program also hopes to spur and support cross-cultural dialogue, and we experienced a great debate and discussion with the group. We even had one person ask us if the US government interfered with our free speech, which of course we explained as long as its peaceful and legal, a free society must have the free flow of thoughts and ideas, and no restrictions on expressions of art. We even had a great discussion on the role of the US interfering or getting involved in foreign countries, which there were many different opinions, but that was good. We showed them how a free society respects different opinions and solves things peacefully. We talked about how JTMP thinks the best way to bring about peace and social change in a country is for those citizens to be educated and informed, and have a free flow of opinions and dialogue, and be free to set up peaceful democracies. We explained how we feel art plays a big role in democracies, as they are the canaries in the coal mine, and can speak out about issues in unique way and sometimes see or sense problems such as civil rights issues in society before others do.
We chatted after our presentation, and answered many questions, as they were all curious about life in America, our freedoms, and how art plays a role. All of them come from emerging democracies, and most were from the Arab Spring countries setting up democracies for the first time and holding their first free elections, such as Egypt did today. We took photos, and even had the Tunisian guitarist play a few jazz riffs, and promised to stay in touch and continue to network using the Internet and work together on our shared social, political, and cultural goals.
For more information on the US State Department's International Visitor Leadership program, go to: http://exchanges.state.gov/ivlp/
MAY 15, 2012 - In an interview with CNN, Jay-Z has come out and praised Obama for coming out in support of gay marriage saying, "it was the right thing to do." He added, "I've always thought it as something that was still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love. That's their business. It's no different than discriminating against blacks. It's discrimination pure and simple." Watch the interview below.
APR 25, 2012 - Musician activists performed at Earth Day 2012 on the National Mall here in DC last Sunday to promote a green and sustainable lifestyle. The Chad Hollister Band was there and had DC legend tenor sax player Ron Holloway blowin' sax for them. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason brought his guitar and great songs, along with Cheap Trick who played a few of their classics for the sparse but dedicated activists who braved the rain calling for better treatment of Mother Earth. JTMP asks our supporters to try and "Mobilize The Earth" and do one green act today. One can switch out and incandescent light bulb with an LED or a CFL, we can walk to the store today and bring a cloth bag. We all can do small things to try and be as green as possible.
MAR 30, 2012 - A gay blogger has released a handwritten letter he received from Fiona Apple way back in 2000, when he was a 16 year old student in high school. He met her briefly before a show in 2000, and asked if she could write a thing or two in support of gay people for his work with the gay-straight alliance that he was a member of. Fiona did write a handwritten letter of support and got it to him within days. He remarks about it on his Tumblr blog and wants to finally thank her for "taking time out and being so thoughtful, especially for a lonely, weirdo like me". See the letter on Bill's Tumblr blog here.
(photo credit Sara C/Wiki)
Springsteen Performs Controversial Song "American Skin (41 Shots)" in Response to Trayvon Martin Shooting
MAR 26, 2012 - Last Friday on March 23, 2012 in Tampa, Florida Bruce Springsteen performed his controversial song "American Skin (41 Bullets)", a song he had only performed twice before. The song was written back in 2000 and was about the horrible shooting death of Amadou Diallo, who was shot by police 41 times when he was taking out his wallet. When Bruce performed the song in Atlanta back in 2000, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association called for the boycott of Bruce Springsteen when he came to Madison Square Garden in NYC, where he sang the song again. The call for a boycott had no effect, Springsteen did an amazing 10-show run at MSG.
Many people are saying it is obvious the recent shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida last month inspired Springsteen to perform the song again. Millions of people and us here at JTMP have been shocked and horrified by the hunting down and murdering of a young man, and that the murderer is free. There is a petition over at Change.org with over 2 million signatures calling for the prosecution of the killer. The lines from the song unfortunately show in America you still can get shot for the color of your skin:
Well, is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain't no secret (it ain't no secret)
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin
Listen to audio of the performance of "American Skin (41 Shots)" below.