Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heroic Women Artists - Part One - Chiwoniso Maraire and Sahar Afarin

While researching aspects of the music of Afghanistan, I happened upon Youtubes of and an interview with the young Afghan singer, Sahar Afarin. She sings songs from many of the cultures in and around Afghanistan.

The efforts by women musicians, singers and artists, in many parts of the world, to be allowed to freely express themselves are sometimes astounding, often heart-rending, and always tales in perseverance.

The web site, which documents struggles for freedom of expression worldwide, has a short interview with Sahar Afarin. It also has interviews with dozens of other artists from around the world, describing their struggles to sing or play their art freely, in the face of one oppressive structure or another.

One of the artists interviewed by is Chiwoniso Maraire. Maraire is American, born in Olympia, Washington. Her father, the legendary ethnomusicologist and mbira player, Dumisani Maraire, was sometimes a guest at KRAB radio in Seattle, when I worked there in the early and mid-1970s.

An expert on many musical topics, from Shona music to the quickly moving currents in African hip hop, Chiwoniso Maraire is well-known as an advocate for open borders, women's rights and freedom of expression. Commenting on the status of artists in Zimbabwe, Maraire said, "I don't think the artists are going to stop speaking. If anything, there is going to be more artists speaking. From what I can see, definitely. So long as there's arrests and everything.... we will keep talking."

Here is a Youtube of her, singing Wandirasa:

Here she is, with Kris Kristofferson, in Oslo, for 2008's Music Freedom Day:

And here is Sahar Afarin, singing in Kabul this past spring:

No comments: