Charitable concert: Jamnesty combines activism and music


Skylar Williams

Charitable concert: Seniors, Jeremy Bernstein, Sam Collett, Danny McNeela and Lev Sheinfeld perform at Jamnesty.

Music has the ability to unify people across different cultures, ethnic groups and regions. This globally-shared experience is what makes it so powerful, said senior Lev Sheinfeld, a member of the band Livingroom. 

Jamnesty, which took place on Saturday, May 22, is an example of this collective experience. During this annual event at South, which is coordinated by the several human rights-related clubs, performers share their talents to spread awareness and raise funds for global human rights issues, said social studies teacher Matthew Whipple, sponsor of STAND for Peace, the club that sponsors Jamnesty. 

“Jamnesty is a human rights-driven concert where we allow different people to speak through the night about human rights issues, but we also allow bands to come and play,” Whipple said. “The draw is the music but the theme is the promotion of human rights.” 

Music has a capability to connect and bring people together, Sheinfield elaborated. He believes that music has a special quality that can help remind people of the many ways they are connected. 

“I love the idea of using live music and performance to promote and benefit the protection of human rights worldwide,” Sheinfeld said. “Music is such a powerful, unifying thing. It only makes sense that it be paired with this cause.”

Jamnesty has also been able to open the eyes of students at South to prevalent issues across the world, explained senior Katie Durow, a coordinator for Jamnesty. At Jamnesty, speakers make sure to inform students about how they can help with these global challenges, Durow said.  

“Working with Jamnesty has allowed me to more deeply explore international human rights and it’s given me an awareness of my privilege as a female student in the Chicago suburbs,” Durow said. “It has provided me with this amazing opportunity to educate other people in school about issues around the world that they might not know about.”

While he loves the live music aspect of Jamnesty, Whipple emphasized its main purpose is to raise awareness for important global topics and how students can make a difference. He recognized each speakers’ courage in getting on stage and sharing their knowledge and understands how deeply each student cares for what they’re talking about.

“The whole [event] is rooted in the idea that all students have the capacity to make the world better and in order to do that, they need to be aware of the challenges that exist [in our community] and around the world,” Whipple said. “When you hear a student speak at Jamnesty, they’re brave and bold and they care about the world and that’s always impressive. Every year.”

After a year without Jamnesty due to Covid-19, Durow explained that everyone involved was really excited about putting on the show. People felt good about what they’re doing at Jamnesty, Durow said, because they got to perform their art and support a good cause at the same time. 

“I really love the atmosphere of Jamnesty,” Durow said. “It is electric.”