agit8: The Power of Protest Songs

ONE’s agit8 campaign launched in 2013 during the run up to the G8 summit in the UK, to encourage world leaders to take decisive action towards ending extreme poverty by 2030.

Historically, protest songs have proven to be powerful tools in uniting people together to support a common cause. From civil rights and women’s suffrage to anti-apartheid and Live 8, protest songs have helped shape history. When people come together and raise their voices, extraordinary things can happen. The agit8 campaign used these songs to send a message that we will not be passive in the fight against extreme poverty.

To kick off the campaign, ONE hosted a two-day pop up concert in London which featured over two dozen artists at the Tate Modern on the bank of the river Thames. Concert attendees enjoyed performances by featured artists, including Paloma Faith, KT Turnstall, Jamie Cullim, and David Gray, who covered some of our favourite protest songs, like Harrowdown Hill by Radiohead and Killing in the Name Of by Rage Against the Machine. ONE volunteers also collected signatures on our petition to the G8, which asked leaders to make commitments to improving food security and increased transparency to help alleviate poverty for millions of people around the world.

ONE also teamed up with some of YouTube’s most popular artists to form Come Together: The YouTube Project. ONE supporters could watch a video recorded by each musician and vote for their favourite artist. Artists who received 1,000 or more votes on their videos were featured on ONE’s Ultimate Protest Song playlist alongside Mumford & Sons, Jessie J, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, U2, will.i.am, and Sting. ONE supporters voted in 6 YouTube artists – Connie Talbot, Jordan Jansen, Vázquez Sounds, Christina Grimmie, Ryan Van Sickle and Heather Fay – whose songs were included on ONE’s agit8 album.

As a result of the agit8 campaign, ONE collected over 350,000 signatures on its G8 petition, which was handed in to the White House in Washington DC, to Prime Minister David Cameron in the UK and President Hollande in France. ONE Champions from Africa and Asia were even able to speak directly to PM Cameron about the impact corruption and secrecy have on daily life in their home countries.

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