On Sunday, June 28th, the live music community came together for the inaugural Justice Comes Alive: A Virtual Festival For Equality. The one-day, donation-based livestream event, which featured performances and enlightening conversations by more than 50 musicians, netted more than 100,000 views across platforms and raised more than $55,000. The money raised will benefit participating artists as well as the Plus1 For Black Lives Fund, which distributes funds to organizations including Equal Justice Initiative, Impact Justice, and The Bail Project.
The all-day streaming marathon featured new live performances from a wide array of artists including Antibalas, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, BANDEMIC (John Scofield, John Medeski, Billy Martin, & Jesse Murphy), Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band, Stanley Jordan, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Christone “KINGFISH” Ingram, Dumpstaphunk, Galactic, Lettuce, The Soul Rebels, Tank and the Bangas, TAUK, Turkuaz, Umphrey’s McGee, and many more.
In between performances, Justice Comes Alive co-hosts Nikki Glaspie (The Nth Power), Nigel Hall (Lettuce), James Casey (Trey Anastasio Band), and Robert Sput Searight (Ghost-Note), and Ari Fink (SiriusXM) led insightful and illuminating conversations with respected musicians about how we can heed the call of the moment to address and eliminate racial inequality on both a personal and a societal level. Featured speakers included Ellis Hall, Oteil Burbridge, Christian McBride, Karl Denson, Patrice Rushen, George Porter Jr., Ivan Neville, Weedie Braimah, Gary Bartz, and more.
Kunj Shah, founder of Live For Live Music, explained, “I’m so incredibly grateful for everyone who participated in the Justice Comes Alive experience to help us raise $55,000+ for Plus 1 Black Lives Fund. The amazing music and poignant conversations set this event apart from anything I’ve ever been a part of. It was an honor to curate and help create something that was meaningful, educational, heavy, and uplifting all at the same time. I’ve learned so much from this movement that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. One day, we’ll finally live in a world where true justice comes alive.”
Co-hosts Nikki Glaspie & Robert Sput Searight each shared warm, hopeful sentiments about the experience. “I’m very honored to have been a part of an event that recognizes racial injustice and is trying to do something about it,” said Glaspie. “Raising awareness is key, and this event did exactly that.” Added Sput, “This is just the beginning. For so long, the lack of education has been a detriment to society on both sides. Now we must realize in this moment that it is a systematic structure for us to be ignorant about the history of black culture. Now we can begin to break the curse of 400 years by having open dialogue. Hopefully we are a lot closer to change.”
Justice Comes Alive follows Quarantine Comes Alive—the first virtual festival from the team behind real-life events like Brooklyn Comes Alive and Denver Comes Alive—which raised more than $170K for artists and the comprehensive PLUS1 COVID-19 Relief Fund with a 15-hour event last month. As more than 200,000 viewers tuned into Quarantine Comes Alive on May 30th, however, racial and social tensions were erupting around the United States following the wrongful killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN at the hands of police. The calls for change have only grown louder since then as people across the world have continued to take to the streets in protest of the systemic racial bias which persists in our criminal justice system. The morning after Quarantine Comes Alive, Live For Live Music got to work on Justice Comes Alive with various members of our community in order to direct the momentum of QCA’s efforts toward causes and topics concerning the ongoing battle against racism.
The combined efforts of virtual festivals Justice Comes Alive and Quarantine Comes Alive have now raised more than $225,000 in funds for a variety of charitable causes and artists whose touring income has been decimated by the ongoing pandemic. Live For Live Music’s push towards a racially just world does not end here. All events moving forward will now benefit and help a larger cause. “There’s so much work to be done,” explains Shah, “and I want Live For Live Music to be a part of the solution.”
Below, you can view some photos captured during Justice Comes Alive and browse through the JCA Artist Baseball Cards to find out the name of that one artist who blew your mind during the show. You can still donate to the cause at JusticeComesAlive.com.