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Music Beats Cancer: Florence and the Machine

Music Beats Cancer

Florence and the Machine is a female-fronted English indie rock band that has been making waves on the scene since they entered in 2007. With a powerhouse vocalist like Florence Welch and their eccentric songs and dramatic performances, quickly conquered the hearts of the audience. 

Their debut studio album Lungs held the number two spot on the UK Albums Chart for five weeks in 2009. By 2010, the band had amassed sixty-five consecutive weeks in the UK’s top 40 charts, which made their album a best-selling one. Another huge achievement came in 2015 when they headlined the Glastonbury Festival. That performance made Florence Welch the first British female headliner in this century. The band has not received any Grammys, but they’ve been nominated six times. They also won the Brit Award in 2010 for Lungs.

Florence Welch, the vocalist, is certainly the most outspoken member of the group, as well as the most famous one. The band owes a lot of its success to her as the main songwriter and lyricist for the band. Of course, Welch’s personal life has greatly influenced the themes she explores in her songs: primarily depression, anxiety, religious themes, and struggles with alcoholism. However, Welch is also a great supporter of LGBT rights and a huge humanitarian. Instead of buying concert merchandise, Welch advises fans to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union, and the band supports other charities wherever possible.

Part of the charity work involves supporting various cancer charities. In 2012, the band was one of the main acts of the Teenage Cancer Trust shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall. They performed alongside Jessie J, Pulp, and Example. Thanks to Roger Daltrey, frontman of The Who, these concerts have become a staple for Teenage Cancer Trust, helping many teenage cancer patients battle with the disease.

One of the wonderful things the band has done for children struggling with cancer has gone viral, traveled the world, and brought tears to people’s eyes. After a teen battling paraganglioma and bone cancer was told that she is too ill to attend the Florence + the Machine concert, the band went to her at the Hospice Austin’s Christopher House in Austin, Texas, several days before her death and surprising her with a special performance. Karinya Chen was only 15 when she met her idols after it seemed that she wouldn’t be able to see them play live. 

The band brought her hoodies, T-shirts, posters, and bags, and the girl sang with Florence Welch, who also signed her arm in Sharpie at Karinya’s request. Unfortunately, Karinya Chen dies of cancer not long after the duet with Florence Welch where they sang Shake It Out and Dog Days Are Over. The gesture of the band members made that day the second-best in her life, as she’d said. 

After she sang with Florence and days before her death, Karinya Chen said in an interview that “Honestly, I think the biggest thing is to not worry and fear. I tear up a little bit when I say that because it’s hard fighting and it’s a difficult thing every single day and just to get past every single day. But you just have to remember that there’s always tomorrow and if you take it one day at a time and just tell yourself don’t worry and don’t take things for granted and tell yourself that you are loved and you are blessed then it makes it a lot easier to fight.”

The work done to lift up the spirits of their fans and to help various charitable causes has been nothing short of breathtaking and amazing. Artists in our society have this kind of power, the capability to help others by speaking out or promoting a cause that benefits society, such as cancer charities. This is how they become agents of positive change and a light in these sometimes dark times.

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