Yusuf Islam, inspired by the revolutions and uprisings across the Arab World has written a song called “My People”. The song will be released as a free download in the near future. Yusuf Islam discusses the song during an interview (which includes a clip of the song) with Riz Khan for Al Jazerra English.
Suze Rotolo, who was Bob Dylan’s girlfriend during his early days in New York, and who was a major influence behind some of his “protest songs” died on the 24th February. Suze was heavily engaged with civil rights and left wing causes long before Dylan was; she took him to CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and made him aware of many political issues. For example Suze told him the story of the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, which inspired him to write “The Death of Emmett Till”.
The Global Press Institute reports that songs have had an important role in the recent Ugandan elections. Judith Nabakooba, a PR officer for the Uganda Police Force released a song called Makuume Edembe to help promote a peaceful presidential vote in Uganda. Radio played a major part in the election process and Makuume Edembe was broadcast many times; commentators say that the playing of such songs was an important part in persuading voters to move away from the violence which has affected some previous elections.
Following a gig in Glasgow Billy Bragg joined Glasgow University students during their occupation of the University’s Hetherington Research Club, part of ongoing protests against budget and staff cuts. Billy stayed for 2 hours, and sang the Internationale; to the students’ credit he reported that they knew the words and were able to join in the singing.
In a move reflecting what might become a uniting in solidarity of revolutionary movements across the Middle East, artists from Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria have joined together to produce Mixtape Vol. 1 , a compilation of songs about the recent uprisings and protests. The artists are El Génèral (Tunisia), Mr. Shooma (Tunisia), Mohamed Ali Ben Jemaa (Tunisia), Ramy Donjewan (Egypt), Ahmed Rock (Egypt), Revolution Recordz (Egypt), Lotfi Double Kanon (Algeria), and Ibn Thabit (Libya)
Egypt Fight Song” (Behead The King) with Bird, The Truth, and produced by DJ Nas, a powerful hip hop summary of the feelings driving the Egyptian Revolution, is available from several web sources, and is an outstanding example of utilising the internet to promote songs for change.
Egyptian rap group Arabian Knightz released a song called Rebel on the first day after internet services where restored in Egypt. Arabian Knightz is based in Cairo with mc’s: Rush, Sphinx, & E-Money as members. Rebel also features Lauryn Hill.
Time magazine online has a very interesting article about the songs being created in support of the uprisings sweeping the Middle East. This once again highlights the power of the internet both for those organising activism, and for capturing and disseminating songs – one of the most effective tools for any campaign.
CTV Toronto News reports that members of the Mohawk and Algonquin First Nations are staging an ongoing protest outside the Ottawa Legislature. Campaigners have been singing and beating drums in protest, for both religious and environmental reasons, at the clear-felling of forest on Algonquin lands. Danny Beaton, a member of the Mohawk Turtle Clan said “That sacred forest is honoured by the native people, and it should be honoured by the people that are in the House of Commons.” Daniel Bernard of the Algonquin Amikwabe clan commented “It’s total violence against Algonquin First Nations. It’s total disrespect for our nation.”
All media forms are awash with news and reviews of P.J. Harvey’s new album Let England Shake. Described by Harvey as “socially apocalyptic” Let England Shake is an album of dark, bleak songs about the horror of war and violence exposed in graphic detail.