Tuesday, October 7, 2008

intersection of the isms

Deeyah - What will it be


Deeyah Handout

What Will It Be
“One of the creepiest and scariest things that I have been told to my face was how this person would like to cut my stomach so that another whore like me is not born and that the same should have happened to my mom.”
- Deeyah, CNN interview with David Mattingly.

The drama never stops, the latest twist in events comes as news breaks out all across the norwegian media that Deeyah's younger brother Adil "Beyond" Thathaal - has become the target from religious extremists for standing up and supporting his sister.
Adil won the Norwegian version of hit popular dance show "So You Think You Can Dance", since winning, it has catupulted him into the media limelight and given him his own celebrity status. As a break dancer Adil has danced on stage for Common, Nelly Furtado, Destiny's Child etc Adil - stage name "Beyond" has had two leading roles in the west end in Norway and is currently starring in a new theatre producton.
From what I have gathered when asked about the way his sister has been targetted, Adil simply commented that he found it ridiculous that people feel they are allowed to threaten her. He also said that he supported her 100% in everything she does. Now this support to you or I is what you'd expect from a sibling.
However his reaction and outright support towards his sister has drawn unwanted attention from Extremists who have been sending Adil death threats. Several leading norwegian news outlets are now reporting that Adil Thathaal is under police protection, because of the actual danger he is in.
- from http://freemuse.dk/sw24062.asp

Deeyah singer, composer and producer, is a versatile artist and a passionate human rights activist.With an eclectic musical appetite and rich musical past she bridges the boundaries of languages as well as musical genres by bringing together her vast cultural and musical heritage with the influences of pop culture.
Deeyah was born and raised in Oslo, Norway, to Muslim immigrant parents (her mother's heritage is Afghan and her father is Pakistani). Immersed in music from an early age, Deeyah trained within the North Indian/Pakistani classical vocal tradition for more than fourteen years and had the rare privilege of being the only female ever to be trained by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and one of very few females to be trained by Ustad Sultan Khan.
In her native Norway, Deeyah has released two critically acclaimed albums under her birth name Deepika. From an early age Deeyah's unique musical abilities have captured the attention of world renowned musicians, artists as well as legendary music industry veterans which has given her the opportunity to collaborate with such greats as her teachers Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Ustad Sultan Khan, as well as Shaukat Hussain Khan, Jan Garbarek, David Lindley, Talvin Singh, Guy Sigsworth, Zakir Hussain, Martin Ware, Adrian Sherwood, A.R. Rehman, Rick Nowels, Billy Steinberg and Knut Reiersrud, Steven Fargnoli, Roy Eldridge, and Rob Dickens.
Although Deeyah's musical accomplishments are impressive, a dark shadow has always followed her from the very beginnings of her career. Being from a Muslim family and having chosen music as her profession Deeyah has had to dodge bullets of criticism her whole life. After years of suffering in silence, having to endure constant intimidation, physical threats and even being attacked at one of her own concerts as well as a failed abduction attempt from her school grounds, Deeyah left Norway in 1996 for the UK.
When the symptoms of the same problem she had fled from in Norway resurfaced in the UK in early 2005, Deeyah once again packed her bags and left for the safety of the United States.
Tired of running and protecting the image of conservative segments within her community, Deeyah finally made the first step towards reclaiming her life. Out of the years of anger, sadness and frustration, her most controversial song and video to date 'What Will It Be?' was born. It features L.A. rapper Young MayLay (the voice and model for the lead character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas).
Despite the continuous abuse and death threats, Deeyah remains defiant against prejudice and discrimination on all levels--especially towards women. "This seems to be why this amazing artist's career seems to start and stop on a dime," says one London journalist. "The minute we get a chance to hear her brilliant tracks, the religious and political backlash seems to materialize and shadow her every move. This is truly a shame and a loss. Deeyah is one artist that is really worth watching."
Deeyah contributes more than just music to the cause of women's rights. She is a patron of ASHRAM, a women's shelter in Birmingham, UK where she contributes her time and support to its victims. Deeyah is also a staunch supporter of ICAHK the 'International Campaign Against Honour Killings.
Currently Deeyah is involved in compiling a compilation album titled "Listen To The Banned" in collaboration with Freemuse ("FREEdom of MUSical Expression") (http://www.freemuse.org/sw305.asp) featuring artists from Asia, Africa and South America. Freemuse is an independent international organization that advocates freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide.
"With this compilation album we hope to provide a bigger platform for these artists to have both their music and stories heard," says Deeyah who is one of the executive producers on this album which is scheduled for release in 2008.
Another project very close to Deeyah's heart is a personal project she is spearheading and executive producing. This project is a mixtape compilation album that will feature young up and coming female Muslim rappers and singers from the UK and the US. Having always felt disheartened and disappointed by the lack of support for Muslim female artists, she decided to start this project to encourage and back young up and coming female artists herself.
Finally in the pipeline is Deeyah's much anticipated album Ataraxis. Special guest musicians on this album are the legendary two-time Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist Bob James;fellow Grammy Award winner Andy Summers,the guitarist and composer best known for his work in The Police, and acclaimed Norwegian trumpet player and composer Nils Petter Molvor.
The future holds yet more exciting projects, in particular Deeyah's first international English language album to be released in 2008.
- from http://www.deeyahpoint.co.uk/
Additional Sources:

What Will It Be?
Deeyah, featuring Young MayLay
(Rapped):D double e to the y, a, h. Why they hate get Maylay ride they way. Slide that AK 4-7, cold weapon, catch ‘em at the next one roll wit’ mo’ protection. For spittin’ and disrespectin’, campaign gang bang in this election. Who contestin’? Got my blessin's collide wit’ the young gun, time to ride, threatenin’ the lives of my loved one.(Verse 1):From the land of the free to the jewel of the empire Does the truth only come from the top of a holy man's spire? From three paces back, covered head to toe are the rules just for the masses and written just for show
Where the beat goes -- nobody knows Where the street goes -- nobody knows
Do you stand up, lay down or follow? What will it be? Will it all be the same again tomorrow? What will it be? You can claim it but the words are hollow
What will it be?Do you stand up, lay down or swallow? What will it be?(Verse 2):Thug life, street life - both sides of the world Not a bit of glamour? No one listens to the words Survival of the fittest? Or maybe how you’re born the kids bear the burden when there’s no shelter from the storm.
Where the children go -- nobody knows Where the money goes -- nobody knows(Repeat chorus)(Rapped):She came in peace. Now we bring the streets, way over the chain can’t tame the beast - West and East got different beliefs. Bridge the gap to preach the peace. We don’t take it lightly when you threatenin’ women, how you have so much hate and faith in religion. Fake in the system, need to take a break wit’ the dissin’, before you end up in the lake where they fishin’. Hearin’ bout the Muslim Madonna, Asian J-Lo, lookin’ for drama, ok if you say so. If you that religious and not wit’ trendy clothes, then what you doin’ even watchin’ videos.(Repeat chorus x 2)

“As a human being and as a Muslim woman I feel it is my duty to speak out and stand up for what I believe is right. To me it is far more important to admit the ills within rather than always pointing the finger outwards. Our issues will not go away by blaming everyone and everything else.
We have to take some level of responsibility for our own actions and problems. I am very aware that 'outside' elements do have a huge impact on the welfare of our community, but that does not excuse us from being responsible and accountable as well." – Deeyah, from http://www.takingitglobal.org/

“I have found that the hypocrisy prevalent in our culture is too much to bear without speaking up. I am tired of the people who clamor at the slightest hint of skin on a Muslim woman but who will not speak up when a woman is beaten and even murdered in the name of Islam. The personal driving force behind ‘What Will It Be?’ is a lot of sadness, frustration and disgust at where things are going and developing for the worse rather than improving in any major way. ‘What Will It Be’ is a direct result and reaction to what I have experienced for more than 10 years now. The video criticises people who commit murder and promote hatred and violence in the name of culture and religion.” – Deeyah, from www.freemuse.org

“I don’t kill. I don’t support violence or hatred, at all, so why am I running? I need to stop, ‘cause I’m going to run out of countries. Where am I going to go? Or I can quit, and I did consider that. And I was thinking ‘Maybe I should quit and disappear and be done.’ But thinking about my entire life, this is something I’ve done since I was seven years old. This is the only thing I know. This is the only thing I love, and why should I have to do that? Just because it doesn’t please some people. So I decided, I’m going to do this music video, and I am actually going to start addressing problems that are very close to my heart through my music and my videos from now on....

A lot of people, I understand, feel that maybe I’m saying ‘Set women free by taking off the veil’. That is actually not the point. The point of the veil and also then some of the nudity in the video as well is that it is your choice. And for me and you and everybody to respect that choice. I have nothing but respect for women that choose themselves to wear the veil. If it is their choice I salute them and I respect them and I will fight for their right to be able to wear the veil. But if a woman chooses not to wear the veil, I feel exactly the same way. You should not have to pay a price for your choices.” – Deeyah, from YouTube interview http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=3oFRG6U8Um0/

'What Will It Be?' delivers a strong statement about Deeyah¹s beliefs regarding the rights of women from all faiths and cultures; their right to speak out, the freedom of dress, expression and to lead their lives the way they CHOOSE without the fear of reprisals or judgment. "WHAT WILL IT BE" also features rapper Young MayLay, who is the lead character of Carl "CJ" Johnson in the ever popular game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas".
The video for 'What Will It Be?' is equally as powerful and rebellious as the song lyrics that manages to come together as the perfect protest from the perspective of a young empowered Muslim woman breaking the silence of a lifetime. Watch the banned video.


One way to use Deeyah in the classroom is through a discussion on other cultures and places. Deeyah is of Pakistani and Afghani descent, and was born and raised in Norway. Her music is a great way to invite Westernized children into a discussion and debate on Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures because it is accessible to North American youth.
A resource to go along with this would be: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/classroom/2lp5.html through the US Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS) which offers lesson plans, handouts, and other teacher resources should you choose to implement a lesson on the Middle East in a high school setting.
Another way we thought of using Deeyah in the classroom would be to get students thinking critically about the music they choose to listen to, and why they listen to it. Through a comparison of images and lyrics between Deeyah and other Pop/Hip-Hop Artists, as Secondary English teachers, we believe this process would generate discussion, debate and critical thinking about the music we choose to listen to.