Belfast Telegraph

Protest songs focus on poverty

Will.i.am, Ed Sheeran and Mumford And Sons are among the stars who have recorded new versions of celebrated protest songs to highlight issues of global poverty.

They are joining forces with dozens of musicians to launch agit8, which is campaigning to get world leaders to focus on poverty ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. It has been backed by the One Campaign - co-founded by U2 frontman Bono - with videos of the protest songs being shown online to inspire a new generation to fight against injustice.

Other stars enlisted by the campaign include Sting, Elvis Costello, Green Day and chart-toppers Macklemore And Ryan Lewis.

Ed, who has recorded a new version of Bob Dylan's Masters Of War for agit8, said: "Music is a powerful tool in galvanising people around an issue. There's no better way to get your point across than to put it in a beautiful song."

Bono said: "This week we are reminded of the words of the great agitator Nelson Mandela - 'Like slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome. Millions of people... are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free. Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation'.

"Since the 1970s, Nelson Mandela has called upon artists and bands to use their platform to fight injustice. We were honoured then, we're honoured now," he added.

His One organisation has also worked with filmmakers and actors including Richard Curtis and Chiwetel Ejiofor to create a half-hour film looking at how protest and music have led to change. It will be projected on to the side of London's Tate Modern on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10pm.

Videos of the protest songs can be seen at one.org/protestsongs and the songs will be available on streaming website Spotify.

The campaign wants the G8 nations, meeting at the summit next week, to throw their weight behind plans to provide more food for Africa, and make financial dealings more transparent for aid and investment in an effort to stamp out corruption and ensure no money is lost from poverty relief efforts.

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