Worldly Wise

Deeyah's celebration of international women

Posted: 14.09.12

When you’re a singer it’s always best to have a plan b up you’re sleeve, just in case it all goes wrong. In the case of Norwegian half Afghan, half Pakistani Deeyah, she hasn’t just got her voice; she’s a filmmaker, campaigner, music producer and human rights worker – you can’t get more multi-talented than that!

Her new album Nordic Woman is a compilation but it isn’t a vanity project of her choosing her favourite singers. It’s a showcase of women with important stories to tell. Deeyah describes it as ‘a celebration of women’s voices who have gone through struggles and suffering.’ All the women have originated from Nordic countries, hence the title. Deeyah admits one of the reasons is that she believes they are ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to valuing women. She explains: ‘The Nordic countries are the best countries for women to live. They gave women equality before the other European nations.’

As a firm supporter of human rights and interest in international affairs, Deeyah has embarked on a musical journey to discover female singers from across the globe, giving them a platform to share their compositions. 
After Nordic Woman, Deeyah is releasing a further nine albums, from every continent, and choosing women from all the nations to take part in the recordings. Some are established singers and others, up-and-coming talent that she’s spotted.

Aside from global voices Deeyah hopes the music will play an equally important role. She says: ‘I believe strongly in preserving cultural music like teaching future generations to play classical instruments such as the sitar and tabla.’ Deeyah herself was approached at a young age by one of Pakistan’s greatest musical legends, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He asked her to play with him but she declined the offer as she didn’t feel ready.

Today Deeyah has committed her life to music. She also runs a charity that encourages children who have little exposure to music, a chance to take it up, away from the eyes of their parents. Many children contact her for advice as so many families still discourage music. She reveals: ‘I get emails from boys and girls who want to play music but their parents won’t let them. It saddens me and this is my way of helping them.’

Nordic Woman is released September 24th. 

To find out more visit:
Interview by Mahvish Razzaq


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