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Empathy plus action equals solidarity — Billy Bragg, musician, singer/songwriter, grassroots political activist
That was a recurring theme from singer/songwriter and grassroots activist Billy Bragg during an impassioned Keynote Speech on freedom of speech and social change during last week's Folk Alliance Conference in Kansas City. In the spirit of folk music, activism and social justice, there are few better than the legendary Billy Bragg to ignite action for change. Activism in Art was the theme of this year's Folk Alliance Conference. The colors of their hair may be 50 shades of gray now, but that has not stopped our world’s music leaders and old-time musicians from attending this year’s conference in droves. Add the many talented younger musicians and everyone in between, and you have a movement in the making of beautiful music. An echoing undercurrent througout the week is that the time is now to re-activiate the songs of old; replace some of the old lyrics with your own, and/or create new lyrical messaging. The latter aimed specifically to millenials, gen xers and gen zers in attendance. Speaking to a packed ballroom filled with folk, blues, bluegrass and alternative musicians, lyricists, agents, presenters and more, Bragg cautions that we have to fight against our own cynicism. “A cynic is someone who has given up,” says Bragg. Throughout the Conference, pocket books of the United States Constitution were handed out to attendees. Citing the Constitution and what it stands for Bragg urges the crowd to “use the words.” A few more Braggisms:
“Music can’t change the world. The audience is the only people who can. Music is the motivator."
He also reminded the audience of musicians and change makers that music is the empowering force to make your statements. And, that “nobody came to Kansas City to read your tweets,” referring to technology and social media and how easy it is to put out your rants in that medium.
“I’m here to kick ass,” said Billy.
And, kick-ass he did! -- Abbe is Socially Sparked! @sosparkednews

Submitted by Abbe Sparks

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