Just when Congress thought they had a stronghold on abortion rights issues, Pearl Jam is ready to unleash a new constituency on them.
On Sept. 19, Pearl Jam will headline a benefit show at Washington, D.C.'s 3,500-seat Constitution Hall to raise funds and awareness for Voters for Choice. The organization, founded in 1979 by Gloria Steinem, is a political action committee providing pro-choice candidates with funding as well as training and endorsements. Now, Pearl Jam and Steinem have teamed up a second time to challenge pro-lifers.
In January 1995, the Seattle-based rock quintet hosted two benefit shows -- also at Constitution Hall -- celebrating the 22nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That time around, Pearl Jam -- along with Neil Young, L7 and Lisa Germano -- raised more than $180,000 for Voters for Choice. In turn, the organization forwarded those funds to support "Twenty five critical House races," according to a spokeswoman for Voters for Choice. This year, they anticipate raising more than $120,000 from the one show, the majority of which will go directly to candidates like Barbara Boxer (for Senate from California), Carol Moseley Braun (for Senate from Illinois), Eva Clayton (for Congress from North Carolina) and Gray Davis (for Governor of California).
"Voters for Choice is an organization Pearl Jam has been involved with for nearly four years," a spokeswoman for the group told JAMTV on Thursday. "Eddie [Vedder] and Gloria have been friends for some time."
Earlier this year, Steinem and Vedder teamed up during Pearl Jam's "Monkeywrench Radio" show to discuss pro-choice issues across the airwaves. But, according to Steinem, it's the benefit show that really makes a point.
"This concert is a perfect pairing, because rock music has always meant freedom, and we are here to talk about reproductive freedom for all Americans," Steinem said in a recent statement. "The music is the main point, but in the case of Pearl Jam, the music is also the message. Their caring about reproductive freedom opens up a path to people who might not otherwise think about the fundamental importance of the issue."
At press time, no other artists had been announced. Tickets for the event go on sale this Saturday through Ticketmaster.