Remembering David Bowie’s Philanthropic Contributions
January 21, 2016
There has been no shortage of media coverage on David Bowie’s musical legacy and influence as an artist. A few articles have also focused on his philanthropic activities, which we will summarize here since the world of celebrity philanthropy is often not as visible as the star at its center.
The late British singer and actor, who died January 10 of liver cancer, was passionate about philanthropic work that supported HIV/AIDS research and treatment, children in poverty, and humanitarian assistance for developing nations, according to Forbes Magazine.
Bowie, 69, used his celebrity and influence to raise awareness and money for HIV/AIDS research and famine in Africa for numerous charities at his concerts. The New York resident and his wife, supermodel Iman, have been deeply involved as donors and advocates for HIV/AIDS research for more than 25 years – especially noteworthy because they helped raise awareness in the early days when little was known about the global impact of HIV/AIDS, according to the nonprofit The Borgen Project.
Bowie actively supported Keep A Child Alive Foundation, which was co-founded by fellow artist Alicia Keys. The foundation works to end AIDS for African children and their families and provides healthcare for those who lack access to life-saving treatment. Iman also served as the foundation’s ambassador.
Additionally, Bowie partnered with War Child, an organization that helps children and youth impacted by war through music therapy, education, health and emergency programs. He also contributed to the Whatever It Takes campaign, which supports 21st Century Leaders.
Several of Bowie’s notable charitable concerts included a 2006 gala performance for Keep A Child Alive and the acclaimed 1985 Live Aid concert, a 16-hour concert fundraiser simultaneously held in London and Philadelphia that brought attention to Africa’s famine. Bowie was a headliner at the event that featured a number of prominent singers and bands including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Queen and The Who.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared January 20 as David Bowie Day. The proclamation was expected to be delivered at the curtain call of the final performance of Lazarus, the Off-Broadway musical that Bowie co-wrote and co-produced. Chicago previously named September 23, 2014, as David Bowie Day.
David Bowie is survived by his wife Iman; the couple's 15-year-old daughter Alexandria; and his son Duncan Jones, 44, whom he had with former wife Angie Bowie. Given Iman’s philanthropic track record, she is likely to continue the couple's charitable legacy. In addition to the charities already mentioned, Iman also supports Save the Children; UNICEF Go – 2 – School Initiative / Somalia; Hope for Congo; and the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, which supports healthcare, education, WASH and agriculture in Iman’s native Somalia.