After the Oct. 1 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, gun-violence-prevention advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety redoubled its efforts with the music community to protect concertgoers. A couple of weeks later, it unveiled a video featuring such artists as Sheryl Crow, Jack Antonoff, Moby and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe for a campaign to drive 1 million calls to Congress to reject legislation that would roll back gun-silencer safety laws.
Now, says Crow, who works with the nonprofit group, it’s time for more of her fellow musicians to step up. “Where artists are concerned, the silence is deafening,” says the Nashville-based singer. “I’ve been very disappointed to see that.”
“People want to know they can be safe whether it’s dancing with their friends at a club or dancing at a music festival,” adds ETFGS spokesperson Valerie Jean-Charles. “These should not be places where people should worry about the threat of gun violence.”
At the 2017 Billboard Touring Conference and Awards at the Montage in Beverly Hills on Nov. 14, Billboard will present Everytown with its Humanitarian Award, while honoring the family of a victim killed at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., in 2016. Everytown research director Sarah Tofte will lead a concert-safety discussion with panelists including Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman.
Founded in 2014, Everytown has amassed over 4 million members, approaching the National Rifle Association’s 5 million, and has worked to make concerts safer primarily through political advocacy, collecting signatures to change a gun-sales regulation (at Bonnaroo in 2016) and partnering with Billboard to pen an open letter to Congress urging gun control after the Pulse shooting.
Crow aligned herself with ETFGS because of its wide reach, including Moms Demand Action chapters in all 50 states. “This [violence] is happening in every town, Sandy Hook, the church in Charleston, S.C., It’s happening in our communities,” she says. “This organization is profound in being able to educate and motivate people to be involved.”
With more musicians coming on board, Jean-Charles believes that ETFGS can even eventually enlist country artists to join its 140 artist-strong Everytown Creative Council, despite the genre’s close alignment with the NRA. “I think we’ll be able to crack that [genre] one day just as we were able to show we can go toe-to-toe with the NRA,” she says. “Americans are tired of having another mass shooting in their vocabulary and this movement is going to grow more diverse as we go on.”
Crow, who lives in Nashville, stresses that artists making music in all formats need to put aside any concerns about alienating fans. “For artists not to stand up and give voice to this really important topic at this moment in our evolution is showing a sign of weakness and also the belief that music is commerce and music is deeper than commerce,” she says. “You are not threatening your fan base by saying we need to have some kind of regulation that looks at gun safety. If artists aren’t doing that, they’re drinking the Kool-Aid that they’re going to lose fans [by speaking out.]”