Performing @ at a Midtown venue called “The Tank” this Thursday at 8! It’s a few blocks away from Times Square, all ages, and no cover: just great music, dance, and art, sponsored by Arab American arts blog FEN Magazine (http://fenmag.tumblr.com/). Will be accompanied by an Arabic percussionist. :)
This is an afterparty/showcase for renowned dancer Leyya Tawil and her company, who will be performing right before me at 7 PM (my set is 8, but come early and watch their piece!). There will also be art by talented Brooklyn artist Katherine Toukhy as well.
Hope to see you! RSVP on Facebook if you like.
I have wondered why the popular “Islamic” record label Awakening Records has no female artists on their roster. Time and time again, I performed at events for Muslim Student Associations and various cultural clubs and was told: “hey you should reach out to Awakening Records! They sign/promote/finance Muslim artists and maybe they could help you!”
I do not perform Islamic music. While I have written songs that reference my faith (http://omniamusic.bandcamp.com/track/judgment-day), I do not set out to write hymns, nor have I ever written one. For the longest time, I AVOIDED singing or even talking about religion, especially Islam. Being pigeonholed as a “Muslim” artist would have meant: 1) having a standard of pious behavior to publicly adhere to 2) isolating potential non-Muslim fans.
So no, I have no desire to be signed to Awakening Records. I prefer to leave my options open as to what I sing and write about and not limit it to religion. Nevertheless, the fact that Awakening Records does not have a single female musician or singer on its roster and just released a compilation called "The Best of Islamic Music" that is devoid of female artists irks me.
I guess our female voices are SINFUL. Or too insignificant to be heard. Or both.
A year ago, I performed at an event for Islamic Relief, a charity organization that helps people in need all over the world. It was a fashion show, an all-ladies event, which was fine with me. The response from the audience was terrific, and I came out of the gig having made some wonderful new fans of my music.
A volunteer graciously informed me of how much Islamic Relief enjoyed my performance and insisted that the organization would love to have me perform at future events, provided that those events were not “mixed”. Basically, I could not perform at an event where males would be in attendance. She was apologetic, of course. But donors (many of which happen to be religiously conservative) are a higher priority than gender equality.
Back to Awakening Records. The music editor of popular blog Aslan Media, Inc. wrote a sassy op-ed calling them out on their lack of Islamic diversity (http://aslanmedia.com/music/mideast-music/21522-awakening-records-snoozes-on-muslim-music-diversity), and in response they made two playlists of their own, featuring both male AND female artists. My music is on both playlists, and I’m honored to be featured among other artists I admire, including Omar Offendum, Deeyah, Emel Mathlouthi, DAM, Outlandish, Kareem Salama, & Shadia Mansour (who is actually a Palestinain Christian, but collaborates regularly with Muslim artists). Give the playlists a listen - the ladies and gents I am featured with are super talented. And thanks to Safa Samiezade’-Yazd of Aslan Media, who called it as she saw it.
I love your music, you have the potential to become a voice for muslims, not just muslim women but for all muslims that want peace. Your songs are inspiring and you are an excellent role model for any girl growing today. I hope you keep writing and singing, also dancing, may your voice grow louder and clearer as you mature.
On the way home and a man was just singing on the subway. By the time he finished, the entire train car was smiling and singing along to “My Girl”! Awakening jaded New Yorkers out of our rush hour daze is no easy task. So I’m feeling grateful to him for reminding me why I chose to make music my life, as it’s easy to forget when you’re so focused on goals and “making it”.