Whether described as acoustic, reggae, ska, funk or folk-rock music geniuses, Dispatch band members Chad Stokes, Braddigan and Pete Francis successfully created their own timeless genre of humanitarian inspired lyrics that make genuinely difference.
Dispatch created the “Elias Fund” to distribute educational scholarships to Zimbabwe youths. During Dispatch’s era from 1996-2001, they created many grassroots 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to promote altruistic efforts, specifically in impoverished nations. Unfortunately, in 2001 Dispatch played their final concert (boasting 100,000 attendants) and soon after each musician ventured to pursue other music and humanitarian aid based projects.
Fortunately, lead vocalist Chad Stokes’ soothing and passionate vocals helped characterize his new politically charged band, State Radio. State Radio’s three record-selling albums Us Against the Crown (2005), Year of the Crow (2007) and Let it Go (2009) each represent the band’s quick progression into humanitarian activism and inspiration to mobilize fans to pay it forward.
Specifically, Chad Stokes has created “Calling All Crows”, a non-profit group intent on promoting women’s rights in developing nations, such as Sudan. Regarding the organization’s name, Chad Stokes told Blast Magazine, “We believe that crows are spiritual scavengers who lead us through tough times with knowledge of the underworld…the plan is to keep it going until women around the world have equal opportunities.”
On December 10, 2010 I attended the final concert of Chad Stokes’ benefit concert: “Calling All Crows”. The seven-city tour united fans, musicians, philanthropists and humanitarian aid groups, like Amnesty International, to listen to music while simultaneously donate money to auction charity projects.
Across the street from Fenway Park, the packed amphitheater of Boston’s House of Blues created a simple atmosphere for a charitable cause. A few candles. A few wooden benches. A few mics. The large back drop of a naked woman lifting her bare hands to the sky, summoning hundreds of crows.
Chad Stokes’ invited other musicians from his record label, Ruff Shod Records, to play few songs to help the fund-raiser. Musicians Bonnie Paine from Elephant Revival, Matt Embree from RX Bandits, Lauren Coleman from Pebaluna, The White Buffalo, Melaena Cadiz, Erin Coughlin and Brad Corrigan from Dispatch all played 2-4 songs. Between sets, Chad Stokes and Amnesty International representatives express gratitude to the audience for helping successfully raise $200,000.
My fellow musician and close friend, Casey Prusher, recently interviewed Chad Stokes for the BU Quad online magazine. During the concert, she happily recalled Chad’s vibrant enthusiasm and undying passion; to utilize his music and fans for humanitarian efforts. Taken from her interview, Chad Stokes told Casey: “The treatment of women worldwide. It’s the cause that I’m most passionate about. Historically, it hasn’t gotten a lot of coverage or attention… I think that if the women and the mothers of the world are treated with respect, taken care of and not taken advantage of, so many other things in the world can change as a result, and will change for the better.”
Since Dispatch’s breakup, I’ve never had the opportunity to see them in concert. I’ve seen State Radio 8 times, but never the original Dispatch. But as the night continued, Chad Stokes (guitar and vocals) and Braddigan (bongo drums) took the stage and played classic Dispatch hits like “Elias” and “The General”. Memories flooded my mind as I was thrown back into summer days strumming my guitar, learning their challenging riffs and soon mastering their complex and powerful songs. As each verse surrounded my memories, I was thankful Chad Stokes and his two music projects are making a difference. They’re creating upbeat catchy sounds and combining powerful politically charged and altruistic lyrics. Their musical talents help raise money to make the world a more peaceful place.
Chad Stokes and his musical projects haven’t created a new software, or a new life-changing product. They’ve simply created sounds to educate and inspire individuals to donate their money and time.
How will I use my talents? How can I inspire others to change the world?