Can Music Actually Change Your Life? How Professional Musicians Are Using Music To Create Change.
Annie Clements and Thad Beaty use music to live their dreams and enable others to do the same.
Professional musicians Annie Clements and Thad Beaty are no strangers to living life on the move. “We’re waking up, we’re packing a bag, and we’re moving,” said Annie who, when she’s playing bass for artists like Maren Morris and Amos Lee, often sleeps on a bus, waking up the next morning in a new town. “Our lives are literally on the move.”
But this couple who met playing with the country group Sugarland, don’t just live physically on the move, their lives are centered around sparking movement in every aspect of life. “We’re on a mission to empower people to do things that they never thought they could do,” said Thad. He believes people start to accept the status quo and forget the potential they have. “If we’ve been able to do this, and we’re totally normal people from totally normal places, then it only stands to reason that everyone should be able to go and chase some things.”’
Unsurprisingly, for Annie and Thad, music is the spark that lights this movement. Even on a cursory level, they believe music really does have the power to provoke movement. Annie said, “When I’m on stage and I’m up there with a bass and I’m noticing these very subtle things that I can do literally with my hands — just a slightest change of a rhythm — I can watch other heads start subtly moving in time. It’s amazing.”
Creating social change with music
Right now, Annie’s using that power to create social change. Annie, along with two other female artists (Megan Mullins, Megan Jane, and Kata Hay), started a band called “Side Piece.” Their intention is use their music to impact the way women see their own potential. Annie explained that on average, 90 percent of country songs played on the radio are from male artists, leaving a meager 10 percent of airtime for women. “It’s never been this bad,” she said.
And this is true. Variety reported musicexecutives refusing to sign any female artists while just a few years ago Keith Hill sparked outrage in an incident referred to as “Tomato-gate” by saying, “If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out… I play great female records… they’re just not the lettuce in our salad.”
Still, many are skeptical that it’s the lack of female artists that’s preventing women from filling the radio waves, assigning blame to the audience instead. With women making up 70-75 percent of country music listeners, many critics say the reason Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan are dominating country stations is that a female audience prefers male artists. But Annie and Thad, two musicians in the thick of the issue, don’t think that’s the real problem.
“It’s the boundaries put on everyone by gender,” says Thad. He says when you don’t see people like you doing something, it’s hard to see yourself doing that thing. Annie agreed, “A lot of times you have a favorite artist or you have someone who’s a hero and you can’t necessarily see yourself going to that place.”
Creating change off-stage
Through her all-female band and work as a bassist, Annie hopes to spark that movement to help females reevaluate their potential. She said, “I’m always onstage with whoever’s up there and, being a woman, it’s somewhat, sadly, unusual to see females up there on the big stage in these, you know, giant shows. And the biggest compliment I always get after a show is usually some young woman coming up to me and saying, ‘I want to be you. I want to do what you’re doing,’ and really they can see themselves in my position.” In other words, she said, ”What I enjoy so much about doing what I’m doing is attempting to normalize seeing women onstage.”
And perhaps seeing women more onstage can create a movement offstage. Thad said, “I think if people accomplish something they didn’t necessarily think they could, then they’re empowered and it becomes this snowball effect and it goes on and goes on and goes on.” Specifically, Thad mentioned the lack of female CEOs (only 4.8 percent of all Fortune 500 companies have women at the helm). “Why? Why is it like that? There’s brilliant women everywhere.” His hope is that projects like Side Piece will help people quit seeing boundaries, recognize their own potential and accomplish epic things.
Music that moves
And all of that is part of the movement Thad is trying to trigger as well with his foundation: Music That Moves. This project started when Thad’s guitar tech was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma and The Grammy Association donated money to subsidize the entire cost of his treatment. Thad wanted
to give the money back to the association so they’d be able to help another musician, so he started a fundraiser. During that project, Thad recognized he had the capability to do a lot more good than just this one fundraiser. “It snowballed from there and we just realized that this combination of musicians and the things that we can do being active not just socially, but physically, kind of turned into this thing that we call Music That Moves.”
The purpose of Music That Moves is to help people realize their potential and pull off something epic by giving them the support and spotlight they need to turn good ideas into movements. Thad explained, “We [Music That Moves] can help give a voice to organizations that need it and get involved on the home front to help people realize they can do the same things that we did.” And although it started with music, Music That Moves has become so much bigger. “Now it’s extended beyond the music world and it’s just through the power of music and the opportunities that we have because we live these lives that carry us around to different places.”’
Creating a movement
For Thad, this endeavor is as much about doing good as it is about enabling people to do good themselves — thereby creating a movement. “When we think of the term ‘movement’ in the context of say, what Martin Luther King did or some of these other great people, they created a movement and their movements impacted the world and it all started with one person having the courage to step out and get someone to change and you see how powerful one person that is driven by a whycan be. So now we’re on a mission to empower people to do things that they never thought they could do.”
However, in order for this to happen, Thad believes most people often need help knowing they can do it. “I don’t think people live daily realizing how powerful and important their story is.” So he’s using Music That Moves to start individual movements. “I just saw the world as people that were almost like five gallon buckets of gasoline and if I could just be the person that goes around flicking matches and seeing which ones of those explode, then that ignition will bump into the five gallon bucket next to them,” Thad said. “That starts an epidemic and we could have this epidemic of kindness or gratitude.”
So, at the end of the day, empowering other people to live life on the move is how Thad and Annie live life on the move. “Movement is an extremely important word because movement impacts community, it impacts an individual, it impacts society, it impacts your health. It is one of those words that if someone really says ‘I want to live life on the move,” there’s a million different things that you can do and the net result of that is a freaking awesome world to live in.”