Janet Bates

Artist of the Month | July 2010


Janet uses the TRINITY system.

Website: www.janetbates.com

Janet Bates – Songwriter, Singer, Social & Environmental Activist Passionate, politically astute, and with phenomenal talent, singer-songwriter Janet Bates uses her golden gift of musicianship to help make a difference in the world. With Janet’s evocative three-octave contralto vocals and her gift for writing songs that seek to make the world a better place, Janet builds upon what musicians before her have done in previous decades: making the world sit up and pay attention.  In the spirit of Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger, and recalling the lilting voice of Joan Baez, Canadian Janet Bates brings her talented songwriting and simply lovely vocals to the task of bringing to the forefront of public awareness, the issues of environmental degradation, the politics of war, and social justice for people around the world as well as in her adopted home, the U.S.A. Janet is unabashedly an activist of the tallest order. With her fifth CD now in production, she has, in the five years since she took up her pen, taken on the war in Iraq, the policies of the U.S. government, social justice, corruption, greed, environmental degradation, and now, global warming.

“When you glance at your reflection, is it standing straight and tall?” she says in her song, “The Destination”. She exhorts us all to stand up for what is right, stand up and be counted. Like Gandhi, she believes that we each must “be the change you want to see in the world.” Says Janet, in her anthemic environmental song, ‘For Whom’…”The sun, and the wind and the stars and the rains, we have only borrowed to use for a while. When we are done, we will have to give them back. Let’s give them back the way they came.”

Janet Bates was first inspired to become an activist by reading the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A few months before the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, Janet had attended a rally for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Picking up a flyer, she read from King’s 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam”, delivered at Riverside Church in New York City. “There comes a time when silence is betrayal”, said King. Janet read the words and understood that she, too, needed to stand up and be counted. She needed to put forth her efforts to make a difference, to stand up for justice, be a vocal anti-war critic, and to become a significant force in social and environmental advocacy. Janet felt she needed to use her voice in whatever way she could, to speak for those people and ideas that could not advocate for themselves. On the first day of the Iraq war, after years of playing guitar and covering the works of great songwriters such as Gordon Lightfoot and Joan Baez, Janet wrote the first of her own songs, protesting the actions of the US government. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift, is approaching spiritual doom.” Janet took those words to heart, writing: “Your Own Worst Enemy”, which became her first recording, in 2004. “Is this a better world for all the lives lost in that war? What did it have to do with being free?”, Janet asks in that song. She went on to sing it at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. “Your Own Worst Enemy” was written for the grown children of the Vietnam veterans, now soldiers themselves, but in the end, Janet found herself singing it for the names on the Memorial Wall – to those lost in Vietnam. Since that first song, Janet has found that she has a prolific pen. With four CD’s to her credit, and a fifth in the works [in 2008], she continues to create works that are thoughtful, musically artistic, and intellectually and politically provocative.

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better,”, said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With his approach to non-violent protest, inspired by the work of India’s inspirational independence leader, Gandhi, King spearheaded the United States civil rights movement of the 1960′s. Creative people lent substantial support in that struggle for equal rights – songwriters, artists, actors, writers and singers – the movement gained momentum from the contributions of creative people all over the country.

Janet Bates continues in that tradition today, seeking to open the eyes of political decision makers across the country, singing to make them hear, make them see what real change means, not just to the country, but the world. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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