Rocking the Vote: When Artists Get Political

The current US presidential election is a weird one. It’s going to be The Donald vs. Hillary, and that will be a bloodbath. So what does this have to do with music? Plenty, as it turns out. Music has figured in elections for decades. This is from Medium.com

As America heads into one of its most fractious election seasons ever, artists are lining up on both sides of the aisle to support their candidate of choice. Endorsing politicians is not new, but it’s never been easier: via a simple Tweet, an artist can reveal to millions of followers their presidential choice. With the general election still seven months away, a landslide of artists across genres have already voiced their preferences.

Hillary Clinton counts among her supporters Katy Perry, Cher, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Lady Gaga, James Taylor, and Snoop Dogg. Bernie Sanders has so many creatives behind him that his camp has set up a website, artistsforbernie.com, to list them publicly. His backers include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Run the Jewels’ Killer Mike, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, The Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle, Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, and David Crosby.

The Republican candidates aren’t without their fans: Kid Rock, Loretta Lynn,Azealia Banks, Ted Nugent, and Aaron Carter have declared their allegiance to frontrunner Donald Trump.

These musicians follow in the long tradition of artists stumping for candidates that goes back centuries. The Hutchinson Family Singers performed “Lincoln and Liberty Too,” in support of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election. Al Jolson wrote and sang Warren Harding’s 1920 presidential campaign song, “Harding, You’re the Man For Us,” warbling such lyrics as “A man who’ll make the White House/Shine out like a light house.”

Frank Sinatra, politically active for more than 40 years, revamped the lyrics of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen’s relentlessly optimistic, GRAMMY-nominated “High Hopes” into a John F. Kennedy rallying cry, complete with a children’s chorus, for the Democratic candidate’s successful 1960 presidential bid. His Rat Pack buddies, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford, dubbed The Jack Pack, joined Harry Belafonte and Nat “King” Cole in fundraising and promotional efforts for JFK.

Keep reading. (Thanks to Bobby for the link.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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