Our History

Music for Democracy was born out of an idea Bear Kittay and Mitch Manzella had when they met at the Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee in 2006. Bear and Mitch volunteered at Bonnaroo with a non-profit, non-partisan voter registration organization. Building from their experience, they wanted to take it a step further: rather than just registering voters within a musical atmosphere and being non-partisan, they wanted to harness the partisan power of music, to inspire change.

Before the festival was over, the two had the first inklings of a plan for a political action oriented organization: to engage young voters by creating an environment where musicians can speak openly about their political views.

In 2008, Music for Democracy produced major events in New Mexico, California, Ohio, Georgia and New York with artists including David Crosby & Graham Nash, Vampire Weekend, Maria Muldaur, Hot Buttered Rum and many others. MFD also conducted a series of interviews with Howard Dean, Senator Mark Begich, Phish's Mike Gordon, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Bruce Hornsby, DJ Spooky, Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Michael Franti and Air America Host David Bender. MFD's 2008 campaign culminated with "Be the Change", a revolutionary Get Out the Vote campaign that harnessed the latest in voter activation technology combined with celebrities nationwide to mobilize voters on election day.

Since the 2008 election, MFD has been focused on interfacing with ongoing campaigns and initiatives to harness the power of music for social change.