January 31, 2024
This piece originally appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News.
On October 7, 2023, the music industry suffered the deadliest event in its history when more than 400 people were brutally murdered and kidnapped at the Nova Music Festival in Israel. The event was billed as a celebration of “unity and love.” We should honor that spirit this weekend at The Grammys.
The Grammy Awards are a celebration of music. They highlight the creativity and excellence that contribute to this uniquely emotional art form. This Sunday, the music world will unite around the power of music. It is an opportunity to come together around the unity and love shattered by terrorists at Nova. A chance to remember the young concertgoers who came to celebrate peace and love but were gunned down in a barrage of terror and hatred. A moment to use the power of music to rally support for the 136 hostages who will be marking 121 days in horrific conditions in captivity and urge the world to bring them home now. And a moment to show how music can advance unity and peace.
There is precedence for this. The Recording Academy issued a strong statement after the 2017 mass murder of 59 people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Musical artists reacted viscerally to the bombing that same year of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England when 22 people were senselessly killed. The Grammys rightfully remembered the victims of both.
After the massacre at the Bataclan in Paris in 2015, in which Islamic State gunmen killed more than 130 people, celebrities expressed their horror. Justin Bieber called for a moment of silence at the Nickelodeon HALO Awards.
Music is our universal language, transcending borders and languages. And music is one of – if not the – greatest export America offers the world.
The world listens to our music. It sings our songs. Go anywhere on the planet and you will come across young people singing (in English!) and dancing to the music of American artists. It demonstrates the profound reach of this beautiful part of American culture.
On October 7, thousands of young people gathered in Israel’s Negev desert to celebrate music – instead, they were set upon by murderers and terrorists who killed 364 and kidnapped another 42.
This attack was not about politics; it was savage butchery. To characterize it any other way disrespects every innocent victim who was brutalized and executed. It disrespects the survivors who hid under the corpses of their friends for hours during Hamas’ murder spree. It ignores the dozens taken hostage by the killers.
No one should go to a music festival and end up being shot and killed, raped, or dragged away into a deep, dark tunnel as a hostage. But that is what happened. Thirty-seven are counted among the 136 individuals from multiple countries, including the United States, still being held in captivity.
I deeply appreciate the power of music to bring people together. When I represented Florida in Congress, I kept a keyboard in my office so that I could play in between meetings. I chaired the House Songwriters Caucus and regularly hosted musicians on Capitol Hill. I used my position to advocate for these great American creators who should be celebrated for the music they bring to the world.
The Grammys lifts up music on a global stage. And this weekend, there is a profound opportunity to show how music brings people together, just as it was meant to at Nova.
I urge the music community to honor the spirit of the Nova Festival goers who were slaughtered at a celebration of peace. Bring home the hostages so they can listen to music again – with their families and friends.
At a night dedicated to the beautiful sound of music, a moment of silence will ring out most powerfully of all.