UL research tunes into ability of song to act as a medium to bring social change

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

Amanda Haynes, Martin J. Power, Aileen Dillane and Eoin Deveraux with Steo Wall (standing) Picture: Alan Place

Amanda Haynes, Martin J. Power, Aileen Dillane and Eoin Deveraux with Steo Wall (standing) Picture: Alan Place

A GOOD song should “hold a mirror up to the world and get people thinking and talking about the real issues,” according to singer-songwriter Steo Wall.

The Dubliner, who just released his critically acclaimed debut album Where I’m From, was speaking at the University of Limerick as a new collection of essays focusing on the power of music to bring social change launched. 

Edited by UL academics, ‘Songs of Social Protest’ features research on diverse singers and genres, from Damien Dempsey and Billie Holiday, to rap, reggae and punk. 

“A song is a very powerful thing, a piece of music has the power to transport you through time and space, take you right back to a time and a place and make you feel the very same emotions you felt 20 years ago,” Mr Wall said. 

“I think any song writer or artist worth their salt should reflect what goes on in society, the good the bad and the scary.” 

‘Songs of Social Protest, edited by Aileen Dillane, Martin J. Power, Eoin Devereux and Amanda Haynes, has been heralded as a “tour-de-force” by international experts. 

The collection, which runs to almost 700 pages, features 33 contributions from around the world.   

The book is expected to be adopted worldwide in the teaching of music and song. 

Speaking at the launch held at the new Glucksman Library, co-editor Dr. Aileen Dillane said: “Song is such a powerful medium, especially when it comes to calling out injustices. All cultures in this world have music and song. Singing is a primary mode of communication.  

“Put that together with social and political protest and it's easy to see what a potent combination they make.” 

The book was launched by novelist Donal Ryan, who is also a teacher of creative writing at UL.