Meaningful Music for the Soul

Alex is a motivational speaker for life skills and home safety issues, a free-lance journalist, and the co-founder of the National Kids Construction Club. He holds a Master of Science in Real Estate from the Kogod School of Business at American University. Alex welcomes your questions and the opportunity to speak to your organization. He can be reached at

I love listening to music, ­especially when cooking and hanging with friends at home. For many occasions, creating the right environment through music ­depends on the ears of the ­listener. I know Millennials enjoy many different genres of music from rock and roll and country to hip hop and jazz. As for me, I’m torn between classic rock of the 70s and 80s and pop music from the last few decades. 

To explore why Millennials like me gravitate to music from the 70s and 80s and to see how the music industry has changed over the years, I turned to female rock artist Gail Petersen, founder and lead singer of the all-girl band The Catholic Girls. Gail wrote all the songs for her newest CD Kiss Me One More Time. While attending a private Catholic school for 12 years shaped her brand, so too do the strong memories and themes she makes references to in her music.
“In the 80s, I wrote ‘God Made You for Me,’ which was banned by the Archdiocese of Providence, Rhode Island.” Gail said. “I took the brunt of that controversy. The name of my band, our school uniforms and rosary-bead earrings got us less airplay than many other bands – less airplay; less money; less fame.”

As Gail recalls, she wasn’t looking for controversy; she just wanted to sing about ideas that were important to her. While other artists found money and fans, she paid the price due to her religious themes. 

I asked Gail what she thought of our music. “Today, music evolves around such things as popularity, record contracts, airplay and more have metamorphosed from talent to abs, breasts, choreography, trendy subjects, and some (as ever) hard-core sex. There are performers, somewhere, writing about injustice and controversial subjects—but to do that is at their own risk.”

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to see the music industry through the eyes of someone who has spent over 35 years in it, I wasn’t surprised when Gail said my generation tends to have a short attention span and wants music to be quick and hard – and understandable.

“It’s not the 70s or 80s where lyrics often had hidden or substantive meaning. Today, audiences are not necessarily searching their souls, but searching for a trend or slogan they can hook into, dance to, play to or pose to. The consciousness is physicality, not philosophy. For the artist, safer is easier, better, more popular and more profitable.”

Music is no longer confined to albums and radio as with Gail’s generation. Millennials have so many musical outlets, such as Pandora and iHeartRadio, and access to a much wider variety of songs. Having the ability to create the right environment when you want to enjoy music has become a more widespread occurrence. Whether it’s jamming out to 70s rock or listening to your favorite pop artist of today, there’s a flavor of music for everyone to enjoy while spending quality time at home.