Like millions of American voters, singer, songwriter and music icon Pat Benatar woke up surprised on Nov. 9. And when she heard about the Women’s March on Washington, she knew she wanted to take part. But a scheduled performance, which had been on her calendar for more than eight months, meant she couldn’t make it to D.C. on Jan 21.
“This has been such an incredible year, and to not be a part of [the march] was just really upsetting to me,” she told PEOPLE.
So instead, Benatar did what she does best: she sang. The song she created for the Women’s March, “Shine,” is an inspiring anthem for women walking on Saturday in D.C. and in the 616 sister marches across the nation. Proceeds from sales of the song will benefit the B.A. Rudolph Foundation, which gives scholarships to young women pursuing unpaid internships in politics, public service or the sciences.
Benatar conceptualized the project with her friend Tricia Clarke Stone, who runs the marketing agency Narrative_, and then reached out to another friend, music producer Linda Perry, about collaborating. In an act of serendipitous timing, Perry had the beginnings of a song, called “We Will Shine,” that seemed to fit with what Benatar was looking for with this project.
She took the tune and added lyrics, put her on spin on it and shortened the name to simply “Shine.” The song will be released on Jan. 20, the day before Women’s March, and will cost 69 cents to download — a nod to the disparity in pay between women and men around the nation.
But the endeavor goes beyond the song: Benatar is also launching the Shine Together movement, which will work to unify people, fund scholarships and support human rights now and into the future.
“It’s a project that links women together: Women of all nationalities, women of color, every woman, together, so we can go forward and try to put the brakes on what’s about to happen,” she said. “And not roll back the clock.”
Though its release falls on inauguration day, Benatar stresses that the song isn’t about President Donald Trump.
“This whole project is not about Trump bashing,” she said. “I have no interest in that whatsoever. It’s about coming around from a positive way.”
Instead, Benatar hopes to the song will help to empower people from every walk of life, a mindset she conveys with lyrics like, “Truth is the answer/love is the reason.”
“My whole mantra is that if you raise up one group, everyone benefits,” she said. “So we’re trying to raise up all groups. This is an inclusive movement. It’s great for all of us to be out there, raising our voices and speaking up, but we need real change, and real people in place to make sure that change happens.”
The Shine Together movement, Benatar said, will hopefully have an impact that lasts far beyond Jan. 21, and she plans to be involved in the Rudolph foundation going forward, too.
“There’s nothing we can do about what is right now,” she said. “It is what it is. The most important thing we can do is to band together and commit, and make sure that our voices are heard.”
“Shine” is available on iTunes, Google and other major music platforms now. Learn more about the Shine Together movement here.