Fiona Apple has announced that she’s donating two years’ worth of proceeds from her 1996 song “Criminal,” easily her biggest hit, to While They Wait, an organization that aid refugees attempting to find their way into the United States. Apple isn’t currently on social media, but she’s posted a letter about that donation on Fiona Apple Rocks, a fansite that Apple herself has endorsed. She writes, “After months and months of reading the news about how my country is treating refugees, I’ve become gutted with frustration trying to figure out the best way to help.” So this is what she’s doing.
This isn’t the first time that Apple has expressed disapproval of Donald Trump and his administration. Since Trump’s election, she has written an anti-Trump Christmas song and coined an anti-Trump chant. But this is the most substantive action that Action has yet taken. In that letter — apparently handwritten and delivered to Fiona Apple Rocks, she encourages other songwriters to do the same thing with proceeds from their own music. Here’s the full text of her letter:
Something I love about being a songwriter is that I get paid for usage of a song I wrote years ago whenever a TV show or movie asks to use it. “Criminal” is my most requested song. In the past I have used my “Criminal” money to help friends or family. However, after months and months of reading the news about how my country is treating refugees, I’ve become gutted with frustration trying to figure out the best way to help. Of course you can donate money for the bare necessities, toothbrushes, blankets, tents, Pedialyte, etc., but after much searching I found the organization WhileTheyWait.org. It seems to me that the best way I can help detainees is to contribute to payment of their legal fees.
What they need is representation and guidance because these people are being prosecuted as criminals just for asking for asylum. When they are separated from their children they need help navigating the system. They need to be bailed out of prison. They need money to pay for the ankle bracelets they are forced to rent and wear while awaiting arraignment, for crying out loud.
WhileTheyWait helps families through the entire process so they don’t have to stand in court alone, so that they are not, in the end, treated like criminals.
I have decided to pledge all of my earnings from “Criminal” over this year and next to this organization. I want to ask other songwriters to donate just ONE TIME, the money they get for the usage of one of their songs to this organization or one of their choosing. I could write a song about this and maybe I will but for now, I will use “CRIMINAL” to help the WRONGLY criminalized get justice. I encourage anyone who wants to join with me to get involved–Watch the short film on their site.
with so much love, Fiona Apple
According to its website, the While They Wait fund works to “help pay for necessities, cover immigration fees, and secure legal services for those who risked everything to be here while they wait to find out if they can stay.” You can find out more about the organization here.