On Thursday, April 13, Wesley Schultz (of the Lumineers) and singer-songwriter Yola will perform at the Boulder Theater in a special, one-of-a-kind concert hosted by the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance.
The concert is the kickoff in what Right Here, Right Now is calling its Mini Global Climate Concert Series. The idea is to combine music from well-known artists with a strong message that shines a light on such issues as climate change, food insecurity, deforestation, and mental health.
“Music has the ability to speak truth to power, and fuel social movements,” Right Here, Right Now’s founder David Clark told us. “Right Here, Right Now Music will continue building momentum by creating new shows around the world, that we believe will also help build community.”
Below, The Colorado Sound’s Ron Bostwick chats with Clark about the origins of Right Here, Right Now, why supporting musicians is so important, how music can help fuel social movements, and why the group chose Boulder to kick off its concert series.
How did the idea of Right Here, Right Now begin at COP 26 in Scotland two years ago?
By way of background, in 2002 I partnered with President Nelson Mandela to reframe HIV/AIDS as a human rights issue, since people at the time were not dying because they were sick, they were dying because they were poor. The 46664 initiative we created was launched with an MTV concert broadcast from Cape town that included Queen, Bono, Edge, Beyonce, Eurythmics, Peter Gabriel, Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens), and more. We got people to care about people with HIV/AIDS, because we humanized the issue.
Two decades later, in a discussion with the UN on how to get people to care about climate change, we decided to take a page out of our Mandela playbook and reframe climate change as the fundamental human rights crisis it is, as women, children, minorities, the poor and marginalized will continue to suffer the most as the climate catastrophe escalates. That was the genesis of the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance, which UN Human Rights, and supporters that included Quincy Jones and Leonardo DiCaprio helped us launch at COP26 in Scotland.
Music has been a wonderful tool for social and human change in the past, from the Concert For Bangladesh to USA For Africa/We Are The World, to the Amnesty International tours. How did music become the avenue for Right Here, Right Now’s mission and goals?
Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance is a multifaceted initiative that includes an annual Global Climate Summit hosted by UN Human Rights and the University of Colorado, it also includes Tech, Policy, Art, and Sport initiatives. However, music is a key component, as it has the ability to speak truth to power, and fuel social movements, so we’re thrilled to partner with the Recording Academy to develop music initiatives around the world.
*We’re thrilled the Boulder Theater event with Wesley Schultz and Yola was chosen as the first show in the Mini Global Climate Concert Series, which is scheduled for stages all over the planet. How did Colorado get so lucky?
Symbolically it was important for the United Nations and the Recording Academy to launch Right Here, Right Now Music, and the Mini Global Climate Concert Series here, because Boulder is the Davos of Climate Change.
Not only was Boulder the site of the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit hosted by United Nations Human Rights and CU Boulder last year – which was the largest Climate Justice summit in the world – but the world-renowned national labs devoted to climate research in Boulder are legendary. Many of them help inform the UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports with cutting edge research and data.
Can you let us in on any of the future shows in the series?
After we launch Right Here, Right Now Music at the Boulder Theater, our goal is to stage Mini Global Climate Concerts in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, London, Johannesburg, Bogotá, and Dubai – during COP 28.
Proceeds from the series will go to the United Nations Human Rights climate justice initiatives and MusiCares, the charity that helps musicians with health and human services needs. Can you give us an idea of how musicians are being directly impacted by the climate crisis?
We’re creating the Right Here, Right Now Fund at MusiCares, as we want to help artists impacted by climate change – basically, any artist who loses their livelihood or musical instruments due to climate-related activity that includes, but is not limited to, floods, wildfires, landslides, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.
By way of example, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, it severely impacted local musicians, who lost their musical instruments and their livelihoods. So MusiCares worked with The Edge of U2 to help musicians in need. The Edge said, “Music is at the core of these communities. It’s an essential part of their identities, their hearts and their lives. So when these centers of musical culture are damaged, getting the music going again is a crucial part of the healing process.” We agree!
With Earth Day in just a few days, the timing for the Boulder show couldn’t be better. How will Right Here, Right Now keep the momentum from Earth Day going all year long?
Right Here, Right Now Music will launch on/about Earth Day, and continue building momentum by creating new shows around the world. [These], we believe will also help build community, which is key to building our climate justice movement.
Which brings me to a point: It’s not our movement, it’s everyone’s movement. I believe the greatest climate threat we face is the belief that someone else will save us. That’s why I’m convinced that we are the people we have been waiting for.
Other than coming to the Wesley Schultz and Yola show, how can Colorado Sound listeners (and the public as a whole) help Right Here, Right Now achieve its goals?
We have lots of activity people can keep up with on our website and our socials. In addition, we’re about to outline “Personal Climate Commitments” that will be on our site, so anyone can see how their personal choices can add up to collective action.
The Right Here Right Now concert with Wesley Shultz and Yola takes place Thursday, April 13 at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colo.
Ron Bostwick will also moderate a conversation with author Betsy Andrews during the Conference on World Affairs on Friday, April 14.
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