British Musicians Doing Great Things

By Charlie Colville

3 years ago

Some good news from the music industry

In need of pick-me-up? Look no further than your favourite singers and songwriters. From scholarships and charity auctions to raising awareness for black and queer communities, these are the British musicians doing great things in the world.

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British Musicians Doing Great Things



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British rapper and grime artist Stormzy has been busy since he shot to stardom a few years ago. He has advocated against racial injustice both within the music industry and in wider society, pledging over £10 million to charity to better communities across the UK and abroad. In 2018, the musician launched The Stormzy Scholarship for Black UK Students, a programme which supported six black students as they entered higher education at Cambridge University. With the aim of making education accessible to bright and talented individuals, the scholarship enabled many young adults from black households to enter university without financial worry. With two of the students now having graduated from the programme, Stormzy announced he would back the programme with £2 million to send another 30 black students to Cambridge in the near future.

Olly Alexander

Not many of us can forget the explosive impact of Russell T Davies’ It’s A Sin. Years and Years frontman Olly Alexander wowed as Ritchie Tozer, a young gay man who moves to London and enters the queer scene just as the AIDS crisis hit the UK. The show was praised nationwide for its candid representation of the experiences of gay men, educating on LGBTQ+ history without sugar-coating the events that shaped the struggle of so many individuals. Alexander particularly stood out for his heart-breaking role in the series, inspiring many in the LGBTQ+ community to share their own experiences with prejudice and AIDS.

Elton John

Following on from the success of the show, Olly Alexander teamed up with British legend Elton John to release a cover of the Pet Shop Boys’ ‘It’s A Sin’ (from which the Channel 4 series was named). The song was performed live for the first time at this year’s BRIT Awards, where it was announced that proceeds would go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The charity funds frontline partners to prevent infections, fight stigma and provide treatment with love, compassion and dignity for those who need it. The single is still available for purchase here.

Dua Lipa

Aside from catchy bangers and floor-filling anthems, Dua Lipa also made a name for herself as one of the BBC’s Live Lounge Allstars. Jumping on the BBC Radio 1 charity single ‘Times Like These’, the singer recorded and filmed her contribution from home in order to encourage social distancing during the early stages of lockdown in the UK. The performance was aired across the country as part of the Big Night In fundraiser, and profits from the single went to Children in Need, Comic Relief, and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Ed Sheeran


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Ed Sheeran was one of the quieter heroes of the pandemic. The singer donated over a million to local charities in Suffolk and made a founding gift to help launch Suffolk Community Foundation’s Rebuilding Local Lives Appeal for those in need of help. At the end of 2020, the British musician launched the Ed Sheeran Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction, which saw him donate 220 lots of memorabilia from his career as well as his first painting. Other celebrities, including David Beckham, Kylie Minogue and Usain Bolt also donated to the auction, which raised money for local charities like GeeWizz and Zest (who support children and young adults in the county) and helped redevelop a playground for children with special educational needs and disabilities in Ipswich.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock

Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock partnered with the BBC earlier this year to create Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop & Power, a documentary where the singer opened up about her experience as a black woman in the industry. Leigh-Anne gave an important commentary on how racial stigma is still very persistent in society, leading discussions on Black Lives Matter, racial identity and the steps needed to establish equality. Much of the documentary highlighted the singer’s drive to educate herself on these issues, so that she could use her platform to spread the right information and provide a safe space for fans in the black community.

The Rolling Stones

The global charity concert Part of One World: Together at Home saw many talents from across the world come together to provide relief for those experiencing hardship during the pandemic. British rock icons the Rolling Stones released a single for the occasion, ‘Living in a Ghost Town’, which featured a music video that explored the empty streets of London during lockdown. The concert was a global hit, keeping up morale during one of the darkest times in recent history and shining a light on our collective community.

Paloma Faith

Petros Toufexis

Paloma Faith has always been honest about the ups and downs of juggling motherhood with her career as a musician. She welcomed her second child into the world earlier this year after six rounds of IVF treatment. Paloma’s pregnancy, which lasted throughout the pandemic, coincided with the release of her most recent album Infinite Things and the planning of her upcoming 2021 tour. Looking back on her experiences as a mother and a musician in the BBC documentary Paloma Faith – As I Am, the singer offers a candid view into her life and struggles – as well as the moments that make it all worth it.

Harry Styles


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Harry Styles has been in the spotlight for over 10 years now, and we’ve seen him grow from boyband superstar to acclaimed soloist. The singer has always used his platform to support good causes, from funding Black Lives Matter and supporting Pride to promoting mental health with the Treat People with Kindness campaign. But perhaps the most iconic thing Harry has been known for recently is the way he continuously breaks down gender norms – whether that be by speaking out on outdated labels, redefining the meaning of masculinity (a dose of femininity goes a long way), or wearing a powder blue Gucci dress on the cover of Vogue. Freedom of expression, regardless of whether it’s considered ‘mainstream’, is something the singer wholeheartedly promotes for his fans.

Featured image: (c) Getty Images

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