top of page

Musical Activism: Artists Using Their Voices to Drive Change

Music, the universal art form that is ingrained in every culture and society, has a fluid definition of its function for both its consumers and its creators.

Music has a unique capacity for conveying and evoking certain emotions. Artists have the creative freedom to express and process their feelings, and listeners resonate with these sentiments. Musicians can also use their lyrics and performances to critique societal norms, advocate for social justice, and raise awareness about various causes. Combining this emotional expression and social commentary, musicians possess a special ability to inspire change. In this way, musical activism can serve as a catalyst for conversations, dialogue, and community building.

Photo and cover by

The creation of music to address sociocultural issues is not a novel concept, and artists from all eras of music have used their work to do so. However, in this digital age of consumption, music and its messages can spread much more rapidly. Consequently, musical activism is becoming increasingly significant in making a difference. Here are some artists (literally) using their voices to inspire change.



Renowned for her powerful vocal performance and socially-conscious lyricism, Beyoncé’s commendable reputation extends far beyond her musical prowess. The artist has been known to use her platform and immense influence to endorse gender equality and racial justice, as well as promote various humanitarian efforts. Her 2016 album Lemonade, as well as her 2022 album Renaissance, addresses several of these themes, encouraging listeners to explore these issues.

Songs/Lyrics Worth Noting:

"Freedom" (featuring Kendrick Lamar):

"I break chains all by myself, won't let my freedom rot in hell"

"Forward" (featuring James Blake):

"Forward, always forward, I'll be here"


"Okay, ladies, now let's get in formation"


Kendrick Lamar

Celebrated for his thought-provoking lyrics and persistent advocacy, Kendrick Lamar addresses sociopolitical conflicts including racial injustice, violence, and social justice. In fact, his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly has received critical acclaim for its commentary on the black experience. His most recent album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, maintains this dedication to his activism in his explorations of racial injustice and LGBTQ+ acceptance.

Notable Lines:

“Auntie Diaries”:

“My auntie is a man now/I think I'm old enough to understand now”

“Father Time”:

“I come from a generation of home invasions and I got daddy issues, that's on me/Everything them four walls had taught me, made habits bury deep/That man knew a lot, but not enough to keep me past them streets”

“United in Grief”:

“I grieve different/Everybody grieves different”


Childish Gambino

Multi-talented artist Donald Glover, professionally known as Childish Gambino, actively uses his platform to engage with advocacy for a range of causes like gun violence, racism, and the treatment of black people in the US. Although primarily renowned for his music, Glover has also explored writing, directing, and producing as a means of expressing his advocacy. His most notable works in this respect include his 2018 track “This is America” and his involvement in the TV show Atlanta.

Memorable Lyrics:

“This is America”:

“Yeah, this is America (woo, ayy)/Guns in my area (word, my area)/I got the strap (ayy, ayy)/I gotta carry 'em”


“We been hurt, been down before/Nigga, when our pride was low/Lookin' at the world like, 'Where do we go?'"


“Can we please give the police the things they need to go and take care of our streets?”



Andrew Hozier-Byrne, known in the music world as Hozier, is an Irish musician with a powerful voice for change. First sensationalized for his breakthrough single “Take Me To Church”, a commentary on prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community, the artist is known for using his music to recognize injustice and its many forms. Furthermore, Hozier has collaborated with various charitable organizations and initiatives, performing at benefit concerts and gatherings aimed at generating funds and increasing awareness for causes like homelessness, poverty alleviation, and humanitarian relief endeavors.

Pieces of Commentary:

“Take Me to Church”:

“Take me to church, I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies”

“I was born sick, but I love it. Command me to be well.”

“Cherry Wine”:

“Her fight and fury is fiery, oh but she loves like sleep to the freezing”

"Nina Cried Power":

“It's not the waking, it's the rising.”


Lady Gaga

An icon in the LGBTQ+ community for her advocacy, within the music industry and beyond, Lady Gaga sets an exceptional standard in building an immense platform for the queer community. Openly bisexual since 2010, the multi-faceted musician is well-known for her passionate support of LGBTQ+ rights. Her renowned 2011 track “Born This Way” is regarded as a queer pride anthem, but the singer refused to confine her activism to the music industry. Alongside her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, Gaga co-founded the Born This Way Foundation in 2012, which focuses on empowering youth and promoting mental health awareness. Her undeniable impact on the music industry, pop culture, and the world at large is highly commendable, and it’s inspiring to see her passion for equality prosper.

Legendary Lines:

“Born This Way”:

“No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life / I'm on the right track, baby, I was born to survive”


“I just want to be free, I just wanna be me / And I want lots of friends that invite me to their parties / Don't wanna change, and I don't wanna be ashamed / I'm the spirit of my hair, it's all the glory that I bear”

“Angel Down”:

“Doesn't everyone belong / In the arms of the sacred? / Why do we pretend we're wrong? / Has our young courage faded?”


Overall, the growing importance of musical activism reflects the increasing recognition of the arts as a potent force for social change and a means to shape public opinion, challenge the status quo, and advocate for a more inclusive and equitable world.


What do you want to see covered on Enharmonic Magazine Next? Let us know.


bottom of page