Philly-based musician Katie Barbato is taking a stand for social change through music. This week, the folk rock artist posted a new song called “Everybody Runs” to her Facebook page, following a week of violence in the United States with the shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the police officers at the protest in Dallas. We chatted with Barbato about what led her to write her song of peace, why more mainstream artists don’t take a stand through music and steps we can all take to make a difference.

What inspired you to write this new song?
I originally wrote the chorus after Sandy Hook. I know we were all feeling a collective despair and I was feeling very angry and sad. Then, right after the Orlando tragedy, the floodgates opened and the song finished itself. Every time I play it, I am empowered to move beyond fear and towards love. I hope to share that with others when they hear the song.

Do you find that mainstream artists today are less likely to take a stand on social issues in their music?

I don't see it as much in mainstream music these days, but I am seeing a revival now especially in the indie music world. I see artists like Ginger Coyle from Philly and Danielle Miraglia from Boston touring and promoting songs that are socially aware. I feel it is our duty as artists to bring awareness to social issues, bring comfort, and spread peace. Music is therapy after all. Maybe one day the world will be saved by a song!

Why do you think that is?

I don't think it for a lack of concern or complacency, but I am not sure if social awareness is considered trendy. It is controversial and not every view will appeal to the masses which is mainstream. I hope there will be more of a revival of social issues in mainstream music. I think we are very lucky to have a timeless treasure trove of protest songs and it is very easy to turn to a song like “Imagine” for comfort in times of distress. I always turn to Lennon, George Harrison, Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. It is also a little scary when a song from the past resonates so strongly in the future. It is time for all of us to wake up and make changes.

What are steps that every one of us can take to make the world a more loving, peaceful place?

First, cultivate a loving awareness of yourself. Practice compassion with yourself. Tune into your empathy. Think of others as an extension of yourself. Listen, really listen. Volunteer in your community. Perform small acts of kindness each day for others and yourself. Forgiveness and an open mind will bring us all peace.

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