Vision: Neil Young's Emotional, Inspiring Humanitarian Award Acceptance Speech

Canada celebrated the Juno Awards this weekend, which celebrates and recognizes the achievements of homegrown musicians. Drake and Biebz were there, which was a big deal. But Neil Young, longtime rocker from Toronto, stole the show when he received the Allen Waters Humanitarian Award for his lifelong work in philanthropy.

He started first by thanking his son:

"I gotta send a shout out to my son, Ben," said Young, clad all in black but for a bright red scarf. "It never could have happened without you, buddy. You're responsible for the whole thing. That's for you, Ben.

Young, who has two sons with cerebral palsy and a daughter who suffered from epilepsy, was being recognized for starting the Bridge School -- an education center  for children with speech and physical impediments. He went on:

"To try to do this humanitarian-y kind of thing, you need to look inside yourself," said Young from under the brim of a black fedora.

"And the musicians, they should not worry about helping others, they should focus on their music first, because the music is the language of love and the language that we all feel together.

"So music makes it happen, and then if you're lucky and you have an opportunity, it's a good thing to do, to go ahead and try to do something yourself."

"You just gotta look inside yourself and the eyes of your friends, and you'll find the secret of how to be a humanitarian. So, love to you."

We're pretty staunch supporters of the idea that artists are the first to spark change and progress in politics and the broader culture. But it's doubly energizing when artists like Young take their gifts a step further into other factions of humanitarianism. Beautiful speech, and bravo, Young, you deserve it.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at March 29, 2011, 7:56am

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