The recently-released CD, Songs for Social Change, features a cross-genre’ mix of hiphop, reggae, funk, world-beat, folk and more, exploring issues such as homelessness, economic inequality, police brutality, racism and war in its eight-song line-up. Songs for Social Change, produced by the Renaissance Artists and Writers Association (RAWA) is the result of a 2016 contest that attracted more than 350 entries. (CD available at

Formed in 1958, RAWA is a worldwide movement of artists, writers and musicians working to restore art to its role as an instrument for social change and awakening. Doug Watson, head of RAWA’s U.S. chapter, was overwhelmed by the response to their first-year contest. Entries are now being accepted at for the 2017 Songs for Social Change contest.

“We are looking for songs that will open people’s eyes to the problems that exist in today’s world,” Watson said, “and inspire them to make the changes that will build a better tomorrow.” Last year’s winner received $500, noted Watson. The 2017 winner will receive $750.“All of the finalists had good songs,” said Watson of the 2016 contest. “It was hard to pick a winner.”

The lead-off song on the CD is the winning entry, We Are One, from One World Tribe, an eclectic group of musicians working out of Pittsburg, PA and Buffalo, NY. One World Tribe features national recording artist and two-time Grammy Award-winner Terrance Simien.

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by Paul Kotheimer

In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will stretch a canvas bigger than Guernica and depict the bleeding human viscera in the American streets.  In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will hide in a foxhole writing string quartets, or wander the aisles of big box superstores, idly comparing kitchen appliances, or both.  In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will post an instructional video on how to make the fascist art of the Fourth Reich, exposing the brutality of that very idea, dressed in impeccable jackboots on the bridge of the Death Star.  In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will bathe the sweet-smelling heads of babies and grip the knotty hands of great-grandmothers in exchange for minimum wage, knowing all are fragile and yearn to keep breathing. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will not let smiling Mickey Mouses or superbowl halftime shows with giant flags and dancers and fireworks and lip-synching superstars and fighter jets in formation and other amazing spectacles fill my screen time. I'll remember what it was like when your uncle's funeral procession was in the crosshairs of the killer drones during the administration of the charming constitutional scholar who won the Nobel Peace Prize.  And I'll remember what it was like to be the only-half-willing killer--the video game soldier, driven to suicide after piloting those drones. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I'll watch my 15-year-old make black-eyed pea chili and worry he'll be drafted into the fighting forces of World War Three. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will stockpile hormone pills or contraceptives in fear they won't be available once it all starts. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I'll rehearse the escape route. I'll keep the backpack in the corner, ready to grab at a moment's notice. I'll keep my passport up to date, if I have one. I'll glance at the parking lot of the mosque, anticipating the blast or the spray-painted slur. I'll hope that my bike helmet probably works for shrapnel. I'll keep trucking away at my day job, not counting on the pension which by the 2030s may or may not have been looted out of existence by hedge fund managers and the legislators beholden to them, and I'll joke about it stiffly to people a mere twenty years younger than me. I'll watch the swirling satellite photos of the atmosphere transmogrifying and the glaciers fragmenting and the tropical habitats receding and the deserts encroaching and the disruptive feedback propagating from system to system and region to region and species to species. If the planet goes barren, the human mind starves first, maybe--Mercifully, maybe.  In the age of the Coup of 2017, we'll hold close whatever scrap of evidence we still have with us--the profiles of leopards drawn in charcoal in the deep caves of the protohumans of Ice Age Europe, one shellac disc of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, a scrap of dots from the corner of Seurat's La Grande Jatte, a half-dollar with Ben Franklin on it, a balalaika, a plastic replica of an Esso filling station for a set of O Scale model trains, an ornate archway with a chiseled inscripition, a drawer full of VHS tapes, randomly assembled from five or six different donors, but still somehow all the same, a rusted beer can with a label and brand name literally nobody you can find can remember.  In short, a lot of trash that will end up buried for the anthropologists of the next millennium to dig up. I don't pity them the task of piecing together the evidence of the cause of our current catastrophe. 

Paul Kotheimer is a singer-songwriter residing in Urbana, IL You can read more News Poetry at . For more work by Paul visit his website


Trickle On Down (CD)
by Dada Veda
Reviewed by Gary Levinson


Trickle On Down is Dada Veda's fourth album and a magnificent testimony his ability to evolve and grow.  No long 'just a folk musician', Dada Veda now steps onto the contemporary music scene with this free-style ode to the bliss that is within reach of all living beings.

The music is contemporary, with a pronounced reggae accent.  This is especially noticeable on Trickle on Down, I'm Waiting for that Time, and Drift in Bliss.  Dada Veda writes the music and lyrics, and sings all the songs.  Kali Wale Amen is responsible for, among other things, the arrangement and production.

Trickle on Down, the title track is especially relevant at this moment when we wait for the coming Trump presidency.

Medal of Dishonor

“If you see something, say something” –anti-terrorism poster

Medals of Dishonor, sculpture by David Smith


I see anxiety

masquerading anger,

hatred masking fear.

I see lock her up means

Lynch the bitch. I see

stop and search means

them not us. I see

black lives matter

like litter matters.

I see freedom of speech

means speak up only

if you agree. Patriotism means

salute and sing along.

Don’t think too much

about the words

Indivisible under God

In the land of the free.


  I say, You deserve a medal.

An international songwriting contest is seeking songs that address the pressing social problems of our time.

(Urbana, IL) April 7, 2016-“We’re looking for the next ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’,” said Don Nelson, describing the Songs for Social Change songwriting contest that his organization is sponsoring.

Nelson is a global coordinator for the Renaissance Artists and Writers Association or RAWA. “RAWA is an international movement of creative people who want to use their talents to serve humanity,” explained Nelson. RAWA was founded in India in 1958 by the Indian philosopher and songwriter P.R. Sarkar, and organizes musical and artistic events around the world.