Dozens of musicians, artists, cultural workers, and other creators have joined together to support Lift Every Vote 2020 (LEV 2020), a series of viral daily sunset performances taking place across the United States in the lead up to Election Day on November 3, 2020. Intended to inspire civic action and encourage voter turnout, LEV 2020 launched on Saturday, October 3. Carmen Rodgers, C. Anthony Bryant, The Blacksmiths Band led by Russell Hall and featuring Michaela Marino Lerman and others performed in New York’s Washington Square Park, in collaboration with the cross-disciplinary activist network the Wide Awakes.
Inviting all creators and performers, including musicians, dancers, poets and others, to organize and present pop-up performances in their local communities, all upcoming LEV 2020 events will take place daily at sunset. A challenge and call to action, LEV 2020 participants are encouraged to stream and share their performances and events on social media using the hashtag #lifteveryvote and to nominate peers to also take part in the challenge.
Envisioned by a community of New York musicians and cultural workers, LEV 2020 was co-founded by Russell Hall, Niama Sofia Sandy, Freda Knowles, David Royer, Isaac Ziman, Simon Rentner, and Brice Rosenbloom. Artists, musicians and cultural leaders who will serve as Lift Every Note 2020 “Ambassadors” include record producer and DJ Arthur Baker, Grammy-winning musicians and composers, Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, Madison McFerrin, Samora Pinderhughes, and Antonio Sanchez; live music impresarios Peter Shapiro, Bill Bragin, Erika Elliott; actor and activist Gina Belafonte and visual artist and activist Hank Willis Thomas, among others. In addition to Wide Awakes, partner organizations include Headcount, Black Rock Coalition, Make Music. See the growing list here.
LEV 2020 was inspired by the summer-long grassroots efforts led by The Blacksmiths and the Wide Awakes, which organized peaceful rallies infused with music and art around New York City fighting for social justice after the murder of George Floyd. Jazz musician and double bassist Russell Hall led a ‘second line’ marching band at marches, rallies and peaceful protests with the direct intention to bring joy and music to the movement.
“Music has a magical way of bringing people together,” Hall says. “We want this thing to really take off. We hope artists will take this challenge seriously, not only driving voter registration and turnout with the beauty of music, art and performance, but also energizing communities in all fifty states.”
“Lift Every Vote is a nationwide challenge that invites musicians, performers, and creators at all levels to flood the nation with performances during the 30 days leading up to Election Day on November 3,” Freda Knowles says of Lift Every Vote 2020. Brice Rosenbloom continues, “We want to harness the power of the arts to provide daily motivation to communities across the U.S., which we hope will mobilize voters and ensure that ALL voices are heard and all votes are counted on November 3rd.”
“With the pandemic crushing live entertainment and performing arts, one critical step in its resuscitation is using the power of music and art to ensure that we can get back on track in our society,” Simon Rentner, LEV 2020 co-founder. “We hope this challenge will motivate all creators — from any genre, medium, or creative sphere — to safely amplify the importance of a functioning democracy, not just through the echo chambers of our social media.