Music Notes – December 2011

Hawaiian musician stages APEC protest

Hawaiian guitarist Makana sang his anticapitalist song “We Are Many” to Barack Obama, Stephen Harper, Hu Jintao and other Pacific Rim leaders at the APEC Summit’s gala dinner in Honolulu on November 12th. Hired to provide instrumental music to the assembled heads of state, Makana revealed a t-shirt bearing the words “Occupy with Aloha” and calmly began singing his song, repeating the lyrics for 45 minutes. “We Are Many” opens with the “many” telling world leaders “the time has come for us to voice our rage,” and concludes with the lines “we’ll occupy the streets, we’ll occupy the courts, we’ll occupy the offices, till you do the bidding of the many, not the few.” To download a free copy of “We Are Many” visit Anti-capitalist culture jammers the Yes Men facilitated the action. See their news release at

Music celebrities spread OWS message

Some might argue that the presence of well-known musicians is a distraction from the serious work going on at Occupy Wall Street, but it’s hard not to concede that their support is important. They’ve helped to keep spirits up and they’ve inspired millions with the message of the “99%.” On October 21st, Pete Seeger, now 92 and walking with two canes, led a thousand marchers from his concert at Symphony Space to the alternate OWS site at Columbus Circle. There he joined old musical partner Arlo Guthrie, composer David Amram and a multitude of voices in a moving version of “We Shall Overcome.” More recently, David Crosby and Graham Nash of the rock band Crosby, Stills & Nash played an impromptu accoustic set at Liberty Square, and Joan Baez sang out in solidarity at nearby Foley Square. A host of prominent musicians have been raising their voices for OWS, including  outstanding contemporary urban/hip-hop artists like Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco and Immortal Technique. Check out their contributions on YouTube.

NPR opera host under attack

Non-profit U.S. radio network NPR has dropped its distribution of the weekly show World of Opera because of the political activism of freelance host Lisa Simeone, who’s been supporting the occupation movement in Washington, D.C. The show’s producer, NPR affiliate WDAV in North Carolina, correctly interpreted the network’s ethical guidelines to mean that a journalist working on a non-news program is free to openly engage in partisan political activity. In fact, even NPR news hosts have taken political stands in the past (usually on the conservative right). WDAV will now distribute World of Opera itself. Hopefully the 60 NPR-affiliated stations that have carried the show will not be intimidated by this political appeasement. NPR is often accused of “liberal bias” by conservatives. However, while the network receives donations from individuals and charities, its biggest funders are a who’s who of the corporate elite including GM, Prudential, Cargill. Citibank and UPS. Media watch group FAIR has started a petition to protest the intimidation. To sign it visit

U.S. musicians support René Gonzalez

Rock musicians Bonnie Rait and Jackson Browne joined folk artists Pete Seeger and Si Kahn and actors Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and Elliott Gould, in an open letter to President Obama calling for the immediate return of Cuban Five prisoner René Gonzalez to Cuba. The October 10th letter was the latest action by Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban Five. Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González were convicted of espionage in 2001 by a kangaroo court  in Miami for the crime of defending their country against terrorist attacks. Gonzalez is the first to be released, but U.S. courts have prolonged his persecution by ordering that he remain on parole in the U.S. for an additional 3 years, with a continuing ban on visits from his wife and family. Meanwhile convicted anti-Cuban terrorist and international fugitive Luis Posada Carriles walks the streets of Miami with impunity. For more info:

Calle 13 sweeps Latin Grammys

Puerto Rican urban/hip-hop duo Calle 13 dominated the 12th annual Latin Grammys in Las Vegas on November 10th. Calle 13 are noted for their socially-conscious lyrics, their pan-American influences, and their avoidance of the genre’s traditional macho posturing. They’re also supporters of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Their 2005 video “Querido F.B.I.” protesting the F.B.I.’s killing of militant independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios can be seen on YouTube. Prominent among Calle 13’s awards this year: Best Album (“Entren Los Que Quieran”) and Song of the Year (“Latinoamérica”). Unlike the regular Grammys, which recognize recordings made only in the U.S., the Latin Grammys honor recordings made in Spanish and Portuguese anywhere in the world. Calle 13‘s homeland is the oldest colony in the world. Puerto Rico was seized by the U.S. in the Spanish-American war of 1898 and its inhabitants are still second-class citizens. For more info visit




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