Although at times it may seem like successful musicians just sit back and count their money, that is far from the truth. After finally achieving success, many musicians feel indebted to society and take it upon themselves to give back to their community and beyond. Whether donating large sums of money to charity or using their fame to speak out regarding current issues, many of them are far from selfish. From Willie Nelson’s work with numerous activist groups to Dr. Dre giving back to Compton, see what some of the world’s best musicians are doing to make a change.
See what Prince did that was only revealed after his death.
Pearl Jam Was Never In It For Money
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Pearl Jam makes a point to give back. Even in the beginning of their career, they became popular for their refusal to make lucrative music videos, do interviews, and market themselves for monetary purposes. They even went on to boycott Ticketmaster because they didn’t think outrageous service fees were ethical. The band, and especially frontman Eddie Vedder, has been very open about their political beliefs and are no stranger to benefit concerts for charities for world hunger or victims of natural disasters. In 1998, the band matched a donation for $500,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They since established their Vitalogy Foundation in which three dollars from every ticket goes towards their foundation’s charities.
Herb Alpert Set A Record In Generosity
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Herb Alpert is an American jazz musician best known for his work associated with Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. Aside from his musical successes, Alpert has also broken records in generosity. In the 1980s, he created The Herb Alpert Foundation and the Alpert Awards in the Arts with CalArts. His foundation supports youth and education as well as environmental issues. In 2007, Alpert and his wife personally donated $30 million to UCLA to help endow the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Along with millions of other dollars in donations, in 2014 his foundation made a $10.1 million donation to Los Angeles City College that provides all music majors with a tuition-free education. This is the largest gift to a single community college in the history of Southern California and second largest in the history of California.
Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) Loves His Religion
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Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. After a successful music career, he converted to Islam in ’77 and soon after auctioned all of his guitars for charity. He essentially quit the music industry and devoted himself to educational and philanthropic causes within the Muslim community. He spent some time as a writer in which he donated his publishing income to Muslim schools in London as well as other charities. Although he came back to music in 2006, he also funded the Small Kindness nonprofit which provides relief to war victims and has won numerous humanitarian awards for his charitable work throughout the years.
Chance The Rapper Wants to Change Chicago
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Since the beginning of his music career and before he used his voice to be political, Chance the Rapper (Chancellor Bennett) has made it clear about how deeply he cares about his hometown of Chicago. Considering the rough circumstances he grew up in, and the city’s current issues, he still has refused to give up on it. With the schools suffering from a funding crisis, he asked for a meeting with the state governor Bruce Rauner to discuss the issue. When he felt that the governor didn’t give him the answers he was looking for, he held a press conference and announced a donation of $1 million to Chicago schools.
Prince Kept His Generosity A Secret
Surprisingly, word of Prince’s great generosity didn’t begin to surface until after his death. As it turns out, Prince was an incredibly generous man that used his own success to help numerous different causes. Civil Rights Leader Rev Al Sharpton took to Twitter to shed some light on Prince’s deeds throughout his life. He talked about how Prince quietly gave money to the grieving family of Trayvon Martin, donated $250,000 to solar power startups as well as struggling families in South Carolina. However, one of his biggest donations was $1 million to a nonprofit in Harlem for inner-city kids living in poverty and poor conditions.
You’ll never imagine how much Dr. Dre has done to try and help the city of Compton.
Elton John’s Fight Against AIDS
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In his five-decade career, pop musician Elton John has sold over 300 million records and is considered to be one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He has used his wealth, fame, and connections as a platform in order to help give back and has played a massive role in the fight against AIDS since the 1980s. In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, dedicated to AIDS prevention, education programs, support services, and more. Since the foundation was established, it has raised over $200 million, most of it being raised at his annual White Tie, Tiara Ball, and Elton’s Closet sale where he sells his own clothes.
Roger Daltrey Was Named European Hero
Roger Daltrey gained popularity in the 1960s as the founder and frontman for the British rock group The Who. While still playing with The Who, he also set off on a successful solo career and has been named number 61 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest singers of all time. Throughout Daltrey’s career, he has been heavily involved in various charities and benefit concerts both with The Who and by himself. He was incredibly crucial in starting the Teenage Cancer Trust concert series in 2000. Here, he organized nine yearly benefit concerts to help British teens afflicted with the disease and raised $2 million at the first show. Since then, he has continued to play countless benefit shows and was evened named Time Magazine’s “European Hero” in 2003 and was appointed the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2004.
Barbra Streisand Is An Activist
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With a diverse career spanning over six decades, it’s clear that Barbra Streisand is doing something right. However, it isn’t just her natural talent that has won over so many fans. She’s also very vocal (and generous) when it comes to her beliefs. She’s donated buildings to institutions, raised millions of dollars for the Streisand Foundation, as well as personally donated her own money to causes such as voter education, preservation of the environment, nuclear disarmament and more. In 2007 alone, the Streisand Foundation donated over $11 million to various charities including Planned Parenthood and City Year.
Dr. Dre Is Giving Back To Compton
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Dr. Dre (Andre Romelle Young) was a member of the influential rap group N.W.A and is now the founder and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. He was also the co-owner of Death Row Records where he produced records for rappers among the likes of Snoop Dogg, 2Pac and more. Aside from completely revolutionizing rap music, he has also set to work trying to change the city of Compton where he grew up and got his start. In 2017, he donated $10 million toward building a performing arts center at the new Compton High School. Furthermore, in 2013, he and Jimmie Iovine donated a $70 million endowment to USC to create the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology, and Business Innovation.
Willie Nelson Cares About Way More Than Just Marijuana
It’s no secret that Willie Nelson is a major activist regarding marijuana legalization, even being the co-chairman of the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws advisory board. However, his efforts for change have not stopped there. In 1985, he helped establish the Farm Aid Music Festival, which over the years has raised over $45 million to support local family farms in the various locations where the festival has been held. He has also played benefit shows for events such as the September 11 attacks and has campaigned for causes such as the LGBT movement, the 2004 Democratic Primaries, and the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. He has also made strides in environmental sustainability when in 2004, he became a partner in the building of two Pacific Bio-Diesel plants in Oregon and Texas.
Bono/U2 Have Bettered the World
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Bono, the frontman for the band U2, has reached new heights when it comes to musicians giving back to the world. Currently, he’s recognized as one of the world’s best-known philanthropic performers and was even named as the most politically-effective celebrity of all time by the National Journal. He’s been involved with countless organizations and relief programs, using his music and status to spread awareness and promote political ideals. Some of his biggest accomplishments include his active campaigning for Africa by co-founding nonprofits such as DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign, and Product Red. For his efforts, he has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, made a Commander of the French Order of the Arts and named Times Person of the Year in 2005.
Up next: Jack White wants all aspiring musicians to have a real opportunity.
Jack White Wants Artists To Have The Same Opportunities
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Jack White has been credited as one the major revivalists of the garage rock scene after playing in bands such as The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather and his own solo career. After reaching a certain level of success, he opened up his own studio called Third Man Records to publish underground music from lesser-known bands to help give them the opportunity. He has also put his own money into the National Recording Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established by the U.S. Congress to protect and archive America’s music heritage. He also gave back to his home state when he saved Detroit’s Clark Park from foreclosure after footing the entire bill with a $170,000 donation.
Michael Jackson Was Generous Even After His Death
Aside from Michael Jackson’s outstanding musical success and the controversies surrounding his life, the King of Pop was also known for his generosity both in life and death. In 2000, he was included in the Guinness Book of World Records for the category of “Most Charities Supported By a Pop Star.” He was involved in more than 40 organizations ranging from nonprofits to activism. He was also known to perform lesser-known acts of generosity consistently throughout his life such as donating wheelchairs for kids with disabilities and more. Following his death, it was written in his will that 20 percent of his trust’s earning be donated to charity as well which make sit hard to disagree with his generosity.
Taylor Swift Has Set the Bar
It appears as though Taylor Swift’s unbelievable success has not caused her to shy away from being generous one bit. Her philanthropic efforts have been recognized by the Do Something Awards as well as the Tennessee Disaster Services. She’s donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to disaster relief organizations and has used her popularity to help raise money while appearing on television, during awards shows, and her own concerts. In 2012, she pledged $4 million to a new education center at the Country Music hall of Fame and has worked with numerous literacy groups to increase textbooks at schools. She’s also made substantial contributions to cancer research and children’s hospital. her most recent endeavor was helping to set up the Time’s Up initiative in Hollywood to protect women from sexual harassment.
Jack Johnson Loves the Ocean
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Jack Johnson is a former professional surfer, singer-songwriter, musician, record producer and more. He soft rock and acoustic style have been well received throughout the years landing the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart numerous times. Along with his music and film career, Johnson is also very active when it comes to the environment and sustainability movement, with an ocean-centric focus. Johnson and his wife created the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation as well as the Kōkua Hawaii Foundation. In 2008, he donated all of the proceeds of his Sleep Through the Static tour to the Johnson Ohana Charity Foundation with his 2010 proceeds going towards All At Once, a charity backed by Johnson.
You’ll never guess what the Zac Brown Band does to help their community.
Zac Brown Band Goes Back To Its Roots
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Before Zac Brown started the Zac Brown Band, he had worked as a camp counselor. So, after rising to stardom, the group made the decision to start their own youth camp called Southern Camp Ground. The camp is a nonprofit located in Georgia on a 400-acre strip of land. Campers range from seven to 17 years old with the goal to educate, challenge, and inspire kids with diverse needs and abilities. The band says that they wanted to help kids reach their full potential and help to provide them with the tools and advice necessary to do so. The band has also worked with Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit to help revitalize school music programs in disadvantaged public schools by donating items for auction for the organization.
Rihanna Created The Believe Foundation
It’s clear that Rihanna has never had any intentions of not using her power and popularity for good. In 2006, she created her Believe Foundation to help terminally ill children, and in 2007, was named an ambassador of the Cartier Love Charity. She has fought for HIV/AIDS funding when she designed H&M Fashion Against AIDS Line. She also contributed a song to the 2008 “Stand Up To Cancer” TV special which helped to raise $100 million for cancer research. In 2012, she founded the Clara Lionel Foundation for her grandparents in support of health, education, and culture. After her grandmother’s death from cancer, she then went on to donate $1.75 million to the radiotherapy department in Barbados.
Steve Earle Is Against Capital Punishment
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Throughout the years, Steve Earle has become recognized as an alternative country icon. Alongside his music career, he is also known for his work as a record producer, author, and actor and is a strong vocal opposition to capital punishment. In 2010, he was awarded the Shining Star of Abolition by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for his activism work. He has also been known to help raise money for autism research, Hurricane Katrina Victims, Vietnam Veterans, Native Americans, and numerous others. In 2009, he played with other musicians on the television show 30 Rock as a benefit show for the National Kidney Foundation.
Incubus Has Its Own Charity
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Believe it or not, the band Incubus isn’t only good to blast in your car for nostalgic purposes. During their heyday, they took advantage of their success and made an effort to make a change the world around them. In 2003, they started a nonprofit called The Make Yourself Foundation that allows for its members to support any charity that they want to. They’ve helped to promote sustainability, aid in the response to natural disasters, and countless other organizations they have helped fund and support. Since 2003, their foundation has raised over $2 million and awarded grant funding to over 60 nonprofit organizations.
Dave Matthews Band Gives Back In Numerous Ways
Dave Matthews Band was started in 1991, and are known for the hours-long sets with each show varying every time they play. When they aren’t constantly touring, the band has made some pretty significant philanthropic efforts. In 2010, the band’s own charity (the BAMA Works Fund) donated $8.5 million to wide variety organizations. The charity was formed in 1999 to help with disadvantaged youth, disabled individuals, the environment, and arts and humanities in the Charlottesville, Virginia region. They have also helped outside of the area by building a “Village Recovery Fund” for those affected in the tsunami in Sri Lanka, and have also been known to play benefit shows such as Farm Aid and Neil Young’s Bridge School benefits.
George Michael Had A Heart Of Gold
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When singer George Michael passed away suddenly in 2016, stories of his generosity started trickling out to the media, from fans and charities alike. The star had gone to great lengths to keep his donations to groups such as the Terrence Higgins Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support, and Childline out of the public eye.
He also frequently assisted complete strangers who were in need. Michael once paid for a Deal or no Deal contestant’s IVF treatment and was known to tip servers generously if he found out they were experiencing financial hardship. He also volunteered anonymously at homeless shelters and other charities.
Bruno Mars And Flint’s Water Crisis
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During singer Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic World Tour in 2017, he played a show in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The nearby city of Flint had experienced a crisis since 2014, when its drinking water source changed to a source that was contaminated with lead.
After the Auburn Hills show, Mars announced that he had donated the proceeds — $1 million — to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “Ongoing challenges remain years later for Flint residents, and it’s important that we don’t forget our brothers and sisters affected by this disaster,” he said in an announcement.
Ray Charles Supported Education
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The world lost musician Ray Charles on June 10, 2004, but he continues to help others through his philanthropic foundation. The Ray Charles Foundation was established in 1986 and its primary purpose was to aid people with hearing problems.
Over the years, the foundation’s mission expanded to include “the empowerment of young people through … [the] support of education institutions and nonprofit education programs.” Charles also donated several million dollars to historically black universities, such as Albany State University and Wilberforce University, during his lifetime.
French Montana Helps Underprivileged Kids
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French Montana, the Moroccan-American hip-hop artist, is known as much for his kind heart as he is for his music. In 2015 he used a $1 million bonus check to establish a foundation to assist underprivileged children.
With a $100,000 donation, he also started a charity in Uganda in order to help build a hospital there. In 2018 Montana was named a Global Citizen Ambassador for his charity work. He told TMZ, “It feels beautiful to be a child of God, citizen of the world and agent of change. I’m helping the people that need help.”
One Direction = #Action1D
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The London-based boy band One Direction takes charity work quite seriously. In 2015 the group launched a campaign called #Action1D, intended to bring awareness to various charities around the world.
1D also works with the Children in Need foundation and helped raise 26 million pounds during a 2011 telethon. In 2013 they released a single called “One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)” which supported the charity Comic Relief. Other groups One Direction has worked for are Stand up to Cancer, Alzheimer’s Association, Mines Advisory Group, and Greenpeace.
Beyoncé’s Quiet Charity Work
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You knew that Queen Bey was going to be on our list! The gorgeous singer keeps a lot of her charity work on the down low, but she’s always looking out for and helping others. Through her BeyGood foundation and Survivor Foundation, Beyoncé helps people around the world as they recover from natural disasters.
From Hurricane Katrina to the devastating earthquakes in Nepal and Haiti, Bey has been there to help out afterward. She also has a partnership with Goodwill and donated $4 million to a rehabilitation facility for drug addicts.
Jennifer Lopez Rallies Artists to Help Puerto Rico
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Both of Jennifer Lopez’s parents are from Puerto Rico, so when Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017, she stepped up to help. Lopez donated a generous $1 million towards relief efforts for Puerto Rico.
She also joined ex-husband Marc Anthony, who also has parents from Puerto Rico, in creating an alliance between artists, “SOMOS UNA VOZ” or “we are one voice”. The humanitarian effort brought aid to the residents to PR and also included Gwen Stefani, Bruno Mars, Mary J Blige and Stevie Wonder.
Ryan Lewis & Macklemore Still A Team For Charity
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Ryan Lewis, the Grammy-winning producer, and his former musical partner Macklemore began a charity called the 30/30 Project. The purpose of the project is to raise awareness and funding for AIDS/HIV. Lewis announced the endeavor in 2014 and said that his mother had contracted HIV via a blood transfusion she received during childbirth.
He wrote, “To honor the 30 years Julie has been a survivor, the Lewis family is raising funds to build health centers worldwide that will stand strong for at least 30 years.” Macklemore also supports the 30/30 Project.
Justin Timberlake Donates $200K to his Hometown
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He’s been a successful artist for over two decades, but Justin Timberlake hasn’t forgotten his Tennessee roots. Timberlake donated $200,000 to his hometown of Memphis. The money went towards the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and the Memphis Music Foundation.
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Executive Director John Doyle told People magazine, “Justin Timberlake has never deserted Memphis, Tennessee. He has never stopped giving back to the community, to the local music industry, and to young people.”