Sting has had so many charitable endeavors over time and I love volunteering myself so I felt weird leaving things out when listing everything from Wikipedia. I do apologize in advance for this lengthy post! There will be a lot of name dropping of other musicians and a little bit about my own endeavors!
If you’re feeling charitable yourself, there are some great causes out there, locally and internationally. Personally, I like working with the Special Olympics! They seem to create really fun events to draw attention while raising money. You may remember that I rappelled down a building to raise over $1,000 for them!
Another great cause is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (or similar cause in your country). I haven’t talked about it a lot, but suicide has affected my life enormously. I’ve almost lost an aunt, lost a manager at my first job, my best friend from high school lost her mom and most recently, I lost a very dear friend. His death has impacted me greatly, it’s almost been a year and I still tear up when certain songs come on and it feels like yesterday. I understand those feelings but it doesn’t make the loss any easier.
Sting’s first involvement in the human rights cause came in September 1981 when he was invited by producer Martin Lewis to participate in the fourth Amnesty International gala. Sting performed two of his Police compositions as a soloist – “Roxanne” and “Message in a Bottle”‘ – appearing on all four nights of the show at the Theatre Royal in London.
Sting also led an impromptu super-group of other musicians performing at the show including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Donovan, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in the show’s grand finale. The event was the first time that Sting had worked with Geldof, Collins and Ure – an association that developed further with 1984’s Band Aid and 1985’s Live Aid. Sting’s performance at the gala – his first live appearances as a solo performer – was prominently featured on the album of the show and in the feature film of the show. In 1986, Sting contributed a haunting song originally made famous by Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit,” to a fund-raising compilation album entitled Conspiracy of Hope: Honouring Amnesty International’s 25th Anniversary.
His association with Amnesty continued throughout the 1980s and beyond and he was a pioneering participant in many of Amnesty’s Human rights concerts – a series of music events and tours staged by the US Section of Amnesty International between 1986 and 1998. Regarding his support for Amnesty International, he stated: “I’ve been a member of Amnesty and a support member for five years, due to an entertainment event called The Secret Policeman’s Ball and before that I did not know about Amnesty, I did not know about its work, I did not know about torture in the world.”
In 1988 he joined a team of other major musicians – including Peter Gabriel and Bruce Springsteen – assembled under the banner of Amnesty International for the six-week Human Rights Now! world tour commemorating the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 1988, he released the single “They Dance Alone” which chronicled the plight of the mothers, wives and daughters of the “disappeared”, the political opponents of the regime killed by the Pinochet government in Chile. Unable to publicly voice their grievances to the government about their missing loved ones, for fear that they would “go missing” too, the women of Chile would pin photos of their “disappeared” relatives on their clothing, and dance in silent outrage against the government in public places. Later, Sting would perform the song on stage in Chile and Argentina, dancing with some of those same women. He has said it was one of the most moving moments in his life.
With his wife Trudie Styler and Raoni Metuktire, a Kayapó Indian leader in Brazil, Sting founded the Rainforest Foundation Fund to help save the rainforests and protect the rights of the indigenous peoples living there. In 1989 he flew to the Altamira Gathering to give a press conference offering his support while promoting his charity. His support for these causes continues to this day, and includes an annual benefit concert held at New York’s Carnegie Hall with Billy Joel, Elton John, James Taylor and other music superstars. A species of Colombian tree frog, Dendropsophus stingi, was named after him in recognition of his “commitment and efforts to save the rain forest”.
On 15 September 1997, Sting joined Sir Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Sir Elton John, Phil Collins and Mark Knopfler at London’s Royal Albert Hall for Music for Montserrat (side note, I flew over this island on vacation with my dad and it actually erupted as when we went by), a benefit concert for the Caribbean island that had recently been devastated by an eruption from a volcano.
In September 2001, Sting also took part in the post-9/11 rock telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes singing “Fragile” to help raise money for the families of the victims of terror attacks in the United States. Sting lost a close friend in the collapse of New York’s World Trade Center twin towers.
Since then, Sting has performed at the Leeuwin Estate Concert Series in Western Australia, with the concert raising $4 million for the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. In 2005, Sting performed a complete set at the Live 8 concert, the follow-up to 1985’s Live Aid concert. A few years later, in 2007, Sting played the closing set at the Live Earth concert at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Joined by John Mayer and Kanye West, Sting and the Police fittingly ended the show singing “Message in a Bottle,” as the event was dubbed “The SOS Concert.”
In January 2010, Sting performed “Driven to Tears” during the global telethon Hope for Haiti Now. Later that year, he performed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. during the 40th anniversary celebration of Earth Day and became a Patron of the poverty alleviation and beekeeping charity Bees for Development.
Sting appeared on Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together and sang a solo acoustic/rock version of “Message in a Bottle” to help raise funds for the American Red Cross in support of those affected by the storm which hit the east coast of the United States earlier that week. The show reportedly raised $23 million. Since that concert, Sting has performed a series of benefit concerts to raise funds for New York’s Public Theater and contributed over $2 million in support of free performances at Shakespeare in the Park.
Be Still My Beating Heart
Ghost in the Strand