Posted by Steve Lettau on Jul 18, 2019

By Felix Heintz, founder and chair of the Rotarian Metalhead Fellowship, with Manouchehr Shamsrizi, co-founder and the fellowship’s director of partnerships

What do Rotary and heavy metal music have in common? The similarities may surprise you.

Every year, a special event takes place in Northern Germany where 100,000 heavy metal enthusiasts from all over the world gather. Jörg Scheller of the Zurich University of the Arts, who not only holds a doctorate in cultural studies but is also part of a heavy metal band, has summarized this community as “a hybrid, multi-ethnic and globalized fairground for all shades of color, mentality and gender,” and “a playing field of complex identities.”

At Rotary, friendship is the rock on which our organization was built, and tolerance holds it together, as Paul Harris once noted. This is an excellent match with heavy metal, which, as Scheller observes, “has crossed ideologies, political borders, and national borders in recent decades.”

Last year, during the Wacken Open Air festival, several of us met up with other Rotary members and started our successful effort to pilot a Rotary Fellowship with 23 participating members. The Rotarian Metalhead Fellowship was recently approved by Rotary International as one of 81 Rotary Fellowships. Through this fellowship, we will bring together all the metalheads within the Family of Rotary to serve Rotary’s goals through music and for music – and we already started at this year’s Rotary International Convention in Hamburg!

In addition to enjoying a common musical style, the fellowship will provide financial support to The Rotary Foundation with our surplus membership fees, as well as support the Wacken Foundation which promotes young metal talents around the world.

Our strong conviction is that not only was friendship the rock on which Rotary was built, but also rock – and its loudest possible style, heavy metal – music can build the friendship we are looking for.