In times of momentous change, artists always have a role, says Devine, the Las Vegas shooting survivor.
“I think of Picasso’s Guernica,” she said of the artist’s famous painting of a bombing during the Spanish Civil War, “and how artists can use their medium to depict emotion and pain and tragedy and sacrifice in a way that doesn’t come across in the spoken word. And I think that it’s so important for [musicians] to be involved in this and to be able to communicate what we feel.”
Cech, who lived through the Sandy Hook shooting, agrees. “It’s a culture shift,” she said. “ Change is about to happen. And we need the entertainers, the musicians, the authors, the filmmakers, the regular voices. We need all of the voices to change a culture. And we hope that people will reflect this change of culture in their music and in their writing and in the arts, because that’s what a culture is. So it’s critically important we have musicians helping us with this movement."
For Risher, who survived the Charleston shooting, music was critically important to her healing. For six months after that attack, “I didn’t even go to church,” she said, “and I’m an ordained minister. My mom loved gospel music and I would listen to those songs that she would listen to, and that would give me hope that the faith she had, and the faith I have, is going to get me through this. I don’t know what I would have done without having music. Even today, that little girl Bebe Rhexa? She’s got a song with Florida Georgia Line, 'Meant To Be.' That’s my song that gets me moving every morning."
After so many mass shootings, the survivors who spoke with Billboard reflected on why the deaths at at Stoneman Douglas High School have made such a difference, and why that attack energized this movement.
One reason is a recognition by the students of the scope of the violence across the nation. The Parkland activists have embraced their peers who have lived daily with the threat of guns on their streets or domestic violence in their homes.