2011 has been a year of social uprising. From the Arab Spring to the summer riots in the UK and the Occupy Wall Street movement of the fall. What role did music play in all this?
"Right! Freedom of Music & Speech" was a conference on music, revolution and authors' rights. Arranged by SKAP - The Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers - the conference asked the following questions: How political is music in 2011? How can we support authors and musicians in the face of censorship and repression? Are authors free to express their minds in our modern, digital world? And how is freedom of expression connected to authors' rights?
With his song "Irhal" ("Leave"), Ramy Essam created a soundtrack to the Egyptian revolution. On November 21st, Ramy Essam joined "Right! Freedom of Music & Speech" to talk about the dramatic days on Tahrir Square in February earlier this year.
At the conference Ramy Essam received the Freemuse Award from the nonprofit organization Freemuse. Freemuse advocates freedom of expression for musicians around the world. The Freemuse Award Committee: "Ramy Essam played an important role during the Egyptian revolution and suffered severe beatings and torture as a consequence. He personifies the powerful role that music played in the Arab Spring."
During the day several authors shared their experiences and performed. Besides Ramy Essam we met:
The Canadian artist Peaches. A revolutionary figure in 21st century electronic music, Peaches has become one the most significant feminist icons in the music industry.
The Turkish singer and composer Fuat Talay. Talay's personal experiences with music censorship in Turkey led to his imprisonment and exile.
Peter Dolving, lead vocalist and composer of the widely acclaimed metal band The Haunted. Dolvings' outspokenness has resulted in hate campaigns, record burnings and death threats.
Songs of protest - the political power of music in 2011
Were there premonitions of what was to come in Lethal Bizzle's grime music? The British writers and Guardian journalists Dorian Lynskey and Dan Hancox discussed the uprisings in England this summer. Also on the panel: Uje Brandelius, singer and songwriter in Swedish pop-band Doktor Kosmos now working professionally for the Swedish political party Vänsterpartiet, Sharon Vaughn, Nashville songwriter and former partner of Dolly Parton, Ahmad Zatari, initiator and arranger of Music Freedom Day in Amman, Jordan, and Andres Lokko, music and culture journalist and member of Swedish satire and comedy group Killinggänget. The panel was moderated by journalist and author Ika Johannesson.
The democratic web - Authors' rights in the digital world
Are authors free to express their minds in our modern, digital society? Journalist and writer Andreas Ekström talked about Google, online anonymity and hate speech with DJ Tova Wellton, composer and blogger, Helienne Lindvall, composer and journalist, Sam Sundberg, journalist and author of "The Pirates - The Swedish File-Sharers Who Plundered Hollywood" and Professor of Civil Law Jan Rosén. The panel was moderated by Patrick Rackow, CEO of BASCA, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.
Expanding the boundaries - Amplifying music in the face of censorship
American philosopher Austin Dacey spoke about "The Impossible Music Sessions", a project that feature the artists who are at risk and the music that they are not free to make. The Impossible Music Sessions connect artists, producers and audiences for the purpose of expanding the boundaries of creative expression. Austin Dacey talked with Ahmad Zatari, initiator and arranger of Music Freedom Day in Amman, Jordan, and Rani Kasapi, producer of "Voices of Change", where censored authors and artists from around the world performs on stage in Sweden.
Furthermore, Ole Reitov, Programme Director of Freemuse, gave a crash course in music censorship.
Gunnar Petri, author and Chairman of Stim, and Patrick Rackow, CEO of BASCA, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, discussed the relationship between freedom of expression and authors' rights.
Kerstin Brunnberg, Chairman of the Swedish Arts Council, talked about the fact that there are a number of democratic countries that provide safe havens for book writers. It is time to give repressed music authors the same possibilty.