As part of our ongoing efforts to celebrate and amplify the power of music to educate, enlighten and help with the social change needed to stop Violence Against Women (VAW), The Pixel Project presents our 2013 selection of 16 songs about or related to VAW and women’s empowerment. While there have always been songs that are very explicit about domestic violence, sexual violence and other forms of VAW, we have selected a mix of songs about VAW and songs that empower women because it is crucial to get a balance between the reality of violence and the message of hope for survival and healing.
This year, our selection includes a diverse range of artistes and musical styles – from feel-good anthems to haunting ballads to foot-stomping dance singles. Some of this year’s songs have been written and performed for anti-VAW nonprofits and movements, others are bona fide hit songs that have brought positive and empowering music for women to the attention of global audience.
Without further ado, here are this year’s selection of 16 songs presented in alphabetical order. We hope they inspire and move you as much as they have inspired and moved us.
Compiled by a Pixel Project Volunteer; Curated and edited by Regina Yau and Carol Olson
Song Number 1: Brave Sara- Bareilles
Bareilles discussed this song in many interviews, revealing that she thinks “there’s so much honor and integrity and beauty in being able to be who you are, [and] it’s important to be brave because by doing that you also give others permission to do the same”
Song Number 2: Break the Chain/One Billion Rising Song- Tena Clark
Break the Chain was the One Billion Rising theme song heard around the world. Many people from around the world danced and created flash mobs out of this song while participating in One Billion Rising events.
Song Number 3: Eagle when she flies – Dolly Parton
In this 1991 song, Country Music legend Dolly Parton sings this uplifting song about the strength of women when facing adversity in their lives, as well as the various important roles the women have in the family and community.
Song Number 4: Freedom Song- Jason Mraz
In 2010, Jason traveled to Ghana to accompany Free the Slaves on a child slavery rescue mission. To his surprise, he was greeted by 20 former child slaves singing the Freedom Song. Jason’s tearful account of meeting slavery survivors was captured in the FTS video “The Journey of The Freedom Song . He also sang this song at at MTV Exit’s unprecedented anti-trafficking concert in Myanmar.
Song Number 5: Good Woman Down- Mary J. Blige
Mary J Blige shares her experiences and challenges and urges women not to give up on life. She also speaks of abusive relationships and urges women to realize they deserve better. She hopes that this song will be a remedy for other’s going through what she had to go through and encourages them to breakthrough.
Song Number 6: Greatest Love Of All – Whitney Houston
The late, great Whitney Houston, a survivor of domestic violence herself, came to prominence in the 1980s with a flurry of best-selling hits that became evergreen Pop anthems. One of them is “Greatest Love Of All” – a song with an enduring message about learning to love yourself as part of self-empowerment which became one of her signature songs.
Song Number 7: I’m Okay – Christina Aguilera
In this powerful and beautiful ballad, global Pop superstar Christina Aguilera sings about surviving her childhood with her abusive father. Parts of this song may be triggering for some survivors of domestic violence.
Song Number 8: Little Black Sandals- Sia
Sia sings about freedom and strength to listen to your heart and obey it. This song is about an abusive relationship and deciding to leave it.
Song Number 9: Little Things – One Direction
Written by fast-rising singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, this song is sung from the point of view of a husband/partner/boyfriend telling his wife/partner/girlfriend that he loves everything about her, even what she sees as her faults. A great positive anthem encouraging women and girls to love themselves.
Song Number 10: Nobody Ever Told You – Carrie Underwood
This breezy engaging melody is a self empowerment song. Carrie said of the song “People need to hear compliments more,” she says of the song’s life-affirming lyric. “People need to hear ‘I love you’ more. People need to hear ‘You are beautiful’ more.”
Song Number 11: Perfect- P!nk
P!nk’s hit song urges us to change the negative dialogue about ourselves that we can have in a world that can be very challenging and difficult. This song is believing in ourselves and allowing other to believe in ourselves as well.
Song Number 12: Roar – Katy Perry
Kary’s song represents overcoming the complex struggles of an abusive relationship and championing herself. She is fighting to take her life back from her abuser and has had enough of the abuse and realises she deserves so much more.
Song Number 13: Tere Bina – Avina Shah
Tere Bina is a positive song all about girl power. It tells the story of a young girl who finally decides to walk away from a really violent and abusive relationship. Her aim for this song is to create awareness about Domestic Violence and all proceeds from the single were donated to West London based charity the Southall Black Sisters.
Song Number 14: The Thing About Love – Alicia Keys
This song is about the many emotions of love and that it can be a very painful experience. However, Alicia reminds that healthy love is out there for everyone and those loving relationships can be incredibly healing and supportive.
Song Number 15: Skyscraper- Demi Lovato
Musically, “Skyscraper” is a ballad and the lyrics speak of staying strong and believing in oneself. Lovato wrote this song during a time in her life facing her own personal struggles and this has become an empowerment anthem that has virally spread throughout YouTube as people worldwide recorded their covers of this song.
Song Number 16: You Are Royalty To Me – Ellis
Modern Folk singer-songwriter Ellis wrote this poignant song in tribute to her grandmother who helped raise her and build her confidence during her growing-up years. In her music video, she features pictures from fans and listeners with their grandmothers.