As the world continues to learn more about coronavirus and its spread, it's vital to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. However, it's also important to make sure that the information being distributed is from credible sources. To that end, Between The Lines has compiled, [...]
Few forces in the world are as powerful or as visceral as the reaction one has to great music. Regardless of genre, when either words, melody or both align the right way, emotions of all kinds can be stirred — not least of which being love. That’s why Austin-based nonprofit The W’All chose the month of love to launch its LGBTQ-focused campaign of inclusion. Starting Feb. 10, the participatory art installation that stands for “we all” is asking people around the United States to submit meaningful song lyrics to its website free of charge. Those lyrics will be added to the thousands of other submissions to create a literal wall aimed at showing connectivity and commonality rather than divisiveness.
Jeremy Klitzman is a director at W’All. He said that anyone is free to share any lyrics of their choosing, so long as they’re not hateful.
“Obviously, we screen it to make sure they’re not hateful or racist or things like that, but anybody can put a lyric, whether it’s a lyric by The Beatles or a lyric from an unreleased album that their dad wrote. It doesn’t have to be something incredibly thoughtful. I submitted a ‘MMMBop’ lyric by Hanson that’s already on the wall,” he said.
He added that it’s a great way to donate to good causes, too, because of its roots within the Soundwaves Art Foundation.
“Our mission has always been to combine music and art for social good. So, Soundwaves does that by creating digital artwork based on the soundwaves of songs,” he said.
Soundwaves has partnered with artists like Sam Smith, Elton John, Brandi Carlile and more. In doing so, it not only sells the artwork via the artist’s social media channels but it raises money and promotes awareness about good causes around the world. This February, The W’All is furthering that goal by allowing people who submit lyrics to donate to LGBTQ-affirming charities like The Trevor Project, Highest Hopes and GLSEN.
“Obviously, I think there has been amazing progress in the last decade in the states on that topic and about making marriage equality and the equality of love kind of a forefront social issue that’s gaining a lot of traction. We wanted to push that traction forward, but also acknowledge that there’s still a lot to be done,” Klitzman said. “And the music industry has in many ways led the push from an entertainment standpoint on normalizing and accepting and really promoting LGBTQ+ personalities and causes. So, we wanted to continue that, and give a platform for musicians to spread that message and continue spreading it.”
Klitzman said that partnerships between the nonprofit and players in the music industry have allowed for hugely successful fundraisers. For instance, openly lesbian artist Brandi Carlile sits on the board of advisers for Soundwave and is one of its main ambassadors regarding LGBTQ issues. Her own Looking Out Foundation has helped move forward philanthropic work to aid LGBTQ-supportive causes, and Klitzman said he’s hopeful that spreading participation in The W’All to more fans and other musicians will be a great step in getting more support for causes around the world.
“[Brandi Carlile] has been leading the push, introducing some of her friends and some of her contacts that want to support her mission. So there’s a lot of folks out there that we know that love her work that are passionate about this that we’re basically trying to bring into the fold who maybe are vocal on social media but maybe never asked their fans to donate to LGBT causes,” Klitzman said. “Or maybe they are a great ally, but they don’t actually know what The Trevor Project is. So bringing people into the fold and educating them and bringing people in and spreading their message to their massive, massive social media audiences. ”
Those social media audiences easily number into the hundreds of millions between each artist-W’All partnership. Still, it’s not enough that audiences simply see a message, the causes chosen must be ones that appeal to the fanbase of certain artists. When asked how charities are chosen for celebrities to promote, Klitzman said it has to do with what they feel passionate about themselves, because it’s only through that authenticity that campaigns are effective. For 2020, The W’All hopes to focus not only on LGBTQ equality but issues like environmental protections and improving treatments of refugees coming to the U.S.
When asked why The W’All values inclusion and equity in the causes it supports, Klitzman said that first, it’s “the right thing to do.”
“Because being inclusive, accepting and celebrating diversity and doing what we can to encourage further acceptance and bolstering of diverse communities and diverse services is not only the right thing to do but it makes us a better country, a better neighborhood, a better nation,” he said. “It makes you a stronger community.”
Beyond that, he said it’s simply much more fun to do an art project that includes everyone.
“If we were saying, ‘We’re doing this art project and we only want to focus on the people who have the money to participate or people that share our political views or people in this one specific space,’ it really limits us,” he said. “And if our goal is to build a movement and an incredibly large and sprawling participatory art project, we want to make sure everybody can come to the table and participate.”
To find out more about The W’All, details about submitting lyrics and more visit wallaustin.com.