Weekly What’s Up: MUSIC Matters

. April 16, 2015.

U-M’s student run MUSIC Matters organization welcomes renowned hip-hop artist Common to their fourth annual SpringFest charity concert tomorrow at Hill Auditorium.

“Common’s artistry and platform has been such a positive influence on music and culture,” said junior Madi Chone, who, together with junior Evan Mack, serves as talent and concert producers for MUSIC Matters. “To find out that Common would be performing for our event was amazing,” said Mack.

Common recently won an Academy Award for Best Original Song (shared with singer John Legend) and has won two Grammys. His charitable work with the Common Ground Foundation aligns with MUSIC Matters main goal of engaging and empowering young people, as the talented singer has proven his dedication to creating equal opportunities for youth in underserved and urban neighborhoods to attain valuable life skills.

Darren Appel, MUSIC Matters’ President, said that the goal of this entirely student-run organization has always been to centralize and develop student engagement and that they have been inspired by how willing U-M students have been to learn about and engage with each other and each of the various other organizations that focus on music or fashion or social justice.

The idea behind MUSIC Matters, said Appel, is to encourage “learning and listening to what each organization is doing on campus and creating a space where there are many points of interaction between them.”

And that’s where SpringFest comes in: an annual event set on promoting collaboration between these unique student organizations and the academic departments, presented in a format akin to the interactive South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin.

As the host of this capstone event to the academic year, MUSIC Matters presents a free day of festivities that encompass several facets, including music, art and food. “This year’s event built upon the success of last year,” said SprnigFest Chair Nick Moeller. “We expanded to include three new areas, a film festival, a farmer’s market and a fashion show.” The idea is to incorporate more areas of the campus into SpringFest. Other new features include a Startup Village, food trucks, live music (of course,) and student organizations hosting activities.

“The fashion show is one of the events we’re most excited for,” said Moeller. Four prominent fashion organizations collaborated on it, specifically tailored to emphasize the five areas of SpringFest: innovation, art, sustainability, social identity and community service, while also celebrating the exceptional talents of student designers.

SpringFest always culminates with a charity concert and has featured 2Chainz, Ben Folds and J. Cole in previous years. Proceeds from this year’s Common performance go to funding a summer leadership camp at U-M for underserved Detroit youth, modeled after New York’s famous Fresh Air Fund.

Jibran Ahmed, Vice President and Fundraising Chair, said that the idea for the leadership camp responds to the reality that U-M should continue developing a pipeline for students from underserved communities and underrepresented populations. “Our current initiative,” Ahmed said, “is to have a five-day overnight camp on campus in Ann Arbor for rising 10th-grade students. The focus is to give the participants opportunities to develop their understanding and application of leadership skills as it relates to themselves others, while also giving them a unique campus experience.”

Common is not only one of the most talented and relevant artists on the modern hip-hop scene, but his work with the Common Ground Foundation syncs up directly with the mission of MUSIC Matters. “We believe there are a lot of areas for collaboration between our respective organizations,” said Chone. “And we will continue to explore ways to work together as we move forward.”

“We’ve learned to never underestimate the potential of learning from and supporting each other,” said Appel.

The group’s reaction when they heard Common was coming to campus? “In one word,” Mack said, “excited!”

SpringFest is hosted on the campus Diag on April 17th:

Common performs at Hill Auditorium on April 17th Doors at 7 PM. Tickets available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office in the basement of the Student Union, also online at or by phone at (734) 763-8587. Tickets start at $25 for the public and $15 for students.


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