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ENCOURAGING MIX: Musicals for the Activist’s Soul

"What does it take to wake up a generation? How can you make someone take off and fly?"

Songs from musicals are more than scenic routes on mountaintops, smiles, and excited jazz hands. Musicals provide a space for the underdog, the disenfranchised, the ones whose art is supposed to comfort. “Art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.”

With everything going on in the world such as the aftermaths of Brexit, the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the black men and women who died due to police brutality, the Orlando shootings, and so much more that wasn’t covered by the media, our souls are weary. And despite our weary souls, we’ll be publishing articles, organizing protests, writing letters to congressmen, organizing hearings, attending council meetings, and we’ll be trying to comfort and educate others more than ourselves.

In order to provide encouragement, while also giving you comfort in the fact that your actions are not in vain, presented to you is a mixtape for the activist in you. Music can be a part of your self-care too.

1. “Do You Hear the People Sing?” || Les Misérables


This song is one of the most popular songs from Les Mis, because it’s the initial spark of the French students’ revolution.

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men. It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again! When the beating of your heart, echoes the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!”

2. “96,000” || In the Heights


During this song in In the Heights, an anonymous person won the $96,000 lottery ticket, thus sparking other people what they would do with that amount of money. Most people say to make other people’s lives better.

“I’ll cash my ticket and picket, invest in protest, never lose my focus till the city takes notice. And you know this man! I’m never sleepin’ because the ghetto has a million promises for me to keep!”

3. “La Vie Boheme B” || Rent


After being insulted by the high class Benjamin Coffin III in Rent, the residents of Avenue A and B praise the unconventional part of their lives; especially the parts that break the status quo to stand up to corporate people like Benjamin.

“Revolution, justice, screaming for solutions, forcing changes, risk, and danger, making noise and making pleas!”

4. “Seize the Day” || Newsies


In Newsies, now is the time to seize the day when newspaper delivery boys strike against the corporate New York World, who tries to destroy their way of making a living.

“Now is the time to seize the day. Stare down the odds and seize the day. Minute by minute, that’s how you win it. We will find a way. But let us seize the day. Courage cannot erase our fear. Courage is when we face our fear. Tell those with power in their safe tower, we will not obey!”

5. “Make them Hear You” || Ragtime

SCAD Savannah – 2015 Spring – Performing Arts – Ragtime dress rehearsal – Photography by Marc Newton

In Ragtime, the character Coalhouse tells the character Younger Brother that although he once encouraged riots to solve injustice, he convinces Younger Brother and his men that violence doesn’t solve anything. Being heard does.

“Go out and tell the story. Let it echo far and wide. Make them hear you. Make them hear you. How that justice was our battle and how justice was denied. Make them hear you. Make them hear you.”

6. “My Shot” || Hamilton

In Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton, Lafayette, John Laurents, and Hercules Mulligan speak of their goals in their education, occupation, and abolition movements, and how that plays into fighting for freedom in the American Revolution. They are not throwing away their shot!

“I’m passionately waitin’. I’m passionately smashin’ every expectation. Every action’s an act of creation. I’m laughin’ in the face of casualties and sorrow. For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow!”

7. “All That’s Known” || Spring Awakening


Controlled by an educational system that does not support progressive ideals in Spring Awakening, Melchior sings of how he must continue to think for himself even though the professors tell him not to.

“But I know there’s so much more to find, just in lookin’ through myself, and not at them. Still I know to trust my own true mind, and to say there’s a way through this.”

8. “I Know Where I’ve Been” || Hairspray


In Hairspray, the character Maybelle “Motormouth” Stubbs leads a peaceful march for integration in Baltimore. Although there is darkness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“There’s a road we’ve been travelin’. Lost so many on the way. But the riches will be plenty. Worth the price. The price we had to pay. There’s a dream in the future. There’s a struggle we have yet to win. And there’s pride in my heart, ’cause I know where I’m going.”

9. “Louder Than Words” || Tick, Tick…Boom!


Jon in Tick, Tick…Boom! is questioning whether or not his dreams in pursuing musicals is worth it. Can he touch others through his words? His friends question what they are doing with their lives. How will they move others?

“What does it take to wake up a generation? How can you make someone take off and fly? If we don’t wake up and shake up the nation, we’ll eat the dust of the world wondering why.”

10. “Being Alive” || Company


Bobby in Company is questioning what it means to be alive with other people, and seeking company with other people, whether that be platonic or romantic. Very powerful.

“Somebody, crowd me with love. Somebody, force me to care. Somebody, make me come through. I’ll always be there, as frightened as you, to help us survive being alive. Being alive. Being alive!”

These songs aren’t going to solve everything in our world. And depending on how you are feeling, they may not even make you feel better the way you want them to. But the most beautiful thing about activism is how we try to make the world better by bettering ourselves.


Because we love you, we compiled all of these songs on one playlist. We hope you enjoy!

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