The power of music couldn’t have been more evident than last Saturday, as some of the biggest names in entertainment spanning over three decades showed up in support of Audacy’s 9th Annual ‘We Can Survive’ Party at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angels.
Headliners Alanis Morissette, Halsey, Garbage, OneRepublic, Weezer and Tate McRae took to the stage to perform their many hits in front of a crowd of music-loving fans. With mental health as the main and driving topic, the benefit raised over $750,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Founded in 1987 and currently the largest suicide prevention organization in the country, I asked AFSP Director General Robert Gebbia what it meant to him and his team to have a platform like “We Can Survive ” adopted by the public in 2022. “I can tell you, we were founded by researchers in New York who wanted to do more research on suicide,” continues Gebbia. “Some families who have lost loved ones in New York 35 years ago had the courage to say ‘We must do more.’ They could not imagine this event because no one would talk about it [suicide] 35 years ago.”
I went on to ask Gebbia what is the greatest significance and impact of having these popular music artists supporting AFSP’s ongoing mission. “It means the world to us because what happens is people listen to the people they follow, whether it’s artists, sports personalities – and when they say ‘I have struggled and got help. Its good.’ It’s a message that gets through, better than we can do. Music is a big part of that.
Shirley Manson, lead singer of 90s rock band Garbage and longtime advocate for mental health issues, spoke openly to me about her own struggles. “I’m a fragile, messy person,” Manson reveals. “I didn’t function very well in society for much of my life. I understand what it’s like to be dark. I understand what it feels like to have depression and low self-esteem and these are things I know well. t often expressed in our society.
With hit songs like “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains” over the years, I asked Manson and his bandmates Garbage how they balance their many business commitments in the changing music industry. while taking the time to take care of theirs. Mental Health.
Manson laughs, “Well, that’s assuming we’ve balanced it.” Garbage drummer Butch Vig goes on to say, “We’re not that well balanced. One of the big things with mental health is that when someone is breaking down, it’s important to speak up and start a dialogue. One of the reasons we’re still together after almost 30 years is that we love each other, but we communicate and we talk and it’s not always easy. We argue, but there’s a wholesome aspect to it that’s good for us and nourishes us in a way. That’s what kept us together as a band.
Susan Larkin, COO of Audacy, a leading cross-platform for audio content, spoke with me about the growing need to expand support and mental health services available to the public today. “There is unfortunately a proliferation of people dying by suicide and we’ve seen post-Covid numbers get really much larger,” Larkin continues. “So now it’s really important, especially young people. Shirley Manson just spoke about this recently and the importance of getting that message across. We’ve raised $1.5 million over the past two years for AFSP and we hope speaking out will save lives.
Knowing that Manson continues to deal with her mental health issues, I wondered what advice she might have for others who may find themselves quietly struggling with their own inner struggles and not knowing where they can turn for help. ‘assistance.
“Calling someone is of paramount importance,” Manson says. “Talk to your friend, talk to a lover, talk to your wife, husband, whatever, sister, talk to a stranger on a helpline. I think the problem with mental health is that you can feel incredible despair. Then if someone talks to you for a few hours, all of a sudden you spend 24 [hours] and things look a little different the next day. You can really get caught in a pool of desperation and I think that’s the kind of grip we should all be advocating for, it’s that moment where you can pick someone up and stop them from really going overboard.
I concluded my conversation with Manson and Garbage by asking them what it means to them to know that their songs over these nearly three decades continue to be a source of comfort to music listeners.
Manson responds, “I love it. It’s the best thing we could do as a band. Vig concludes by saying, “We’ve had countless times where fans have come up and said they’re in love. falling apart or they had a problem in a relationship or at work or whatever and they hit rock bottom and then a Garbage song or an album pulled them out of the abyss and back up into the light It means a lot to us when we hear these kinds of stories.
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