Music Freedom Day highlights 2017


Music Freedom Day once again took place globally on 3 March with the participation and mobilising of artists, broadcasters, cultural managers, journalists, activists, creative hubs, organisations and music lovers worldwide. Around the world, Music Freedom Day events took place in 23 countries.

The focus for Music Freedom Day 2017 were women’s voices and the need to protect and celebrate the rights of women musicians globally.

Women artists from Afghanistan to USA sent their statement of support for Music Freedom Day and solidarity with women who are banned from singing or performing, threatened, attacked or even killed, simply for signing or performing. The video statements include words from Marjan (Zohra orchestra, the first all-women’s orchestra in the world) and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for artistic freedom and creativity, Deeyah Khan.

A Spotify playlist was created leading up to Music Freedom Day, featured global women’s voices that have been silenced.

Further, a special podcast was produced in collaboration with Saudi FM’s first Hip Hop radio host ‘Big Hass’, giving a rare insight into the conditions for creative women in Saudi Arabia.

On social media 86,300 people participated by highlighting Music Freedom Day through tweets, images, statements and videos, and several radio stations broadcasted special Music Freedom Day programs such as Swedish Radio, DR, Radio Helsinki, RadioTeleSuisse, Monte Carlo Doualiya (Radio France International), Radio RTS in Beograd as well as a special report by BBC World Services covering Music Freedom Day Kenya:


You can see a general overview of what was posted from media, organisations and journalists on


Below are a few highlights from Music Freedom Day 2017 events.

Geneva - poster

Geneva – poster

In Geneva, Freemuse co-hosted a side-session with the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, and spoke at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on cultural rights, including women’s right to artistic freedom.

» Click to view the video from Music Freedom Day in Rabat.

In Morocco, Racines organised Music Freedom Day for the second time, and this time featuring an all-female band, a transgendered dancer and performer and an open debate where the audience and speakers debated on the concept of artistic freedom and its limits in society. Around 300 people attended the event.






Photos by Turning Tables Kenya

In Kenya, Music Freedom Day was highlighted with an all-women’s impressive line-up of DJ’s, rappers, singers and spoken-word artists as well as a panel debate discussion on women’s challenges and issues in the music and performing arts scene in Kenya.

Around 250 people attended the event which was hosted by Tuning Tables Kenya in Partnership with Sauti Za Mabinti a platform that seeks to empower and capacity build upcoming female artists in Kenya.


In Pakistan, Music Freedom Day drew large crowds at two different events. In Swat where all music was forbidden by the Taliban, Takhleeq Development Foundation provided the stage to commemorate those affected by the war and to especially highlight the role of women in music. Over a thousand people attended, and you can see the coverage from Mashriq TV on a Facebook video.


Photo and article by

Also in Pakistan, around 300 local artists and musicians joined the Music Freedom Day event organised by The Culture Journalists Forum and Peshawar Press Club Cultural Committee – alongside music supporters, professors and cultural activists – and besides performance, demanded of the provincial government to speed up work on cultural policy and take steps to ensure their safety, as well as a comprehensive cultural policy.



Photo from

In Norway, a number of events took place, such as the talk art under threat and the particular difficulties for women performers with Freemuse Director Ole Reitov, arranged by Music Freedom Day Norway at By:Larm Festival, followed by a concert in the evening.



In Myanmar, Music Freedom Day took place for the first time and leading up to 3 March, the organisers (Turning Tables Myanmar) met with the all-female lineup of artists to discuss topics such as religion, culture and family challenges for Burmese women artist. Click on the youtube video above to listen to the statements from the female artists.

South Africa

South Africa

South Africa

South Africa. Photos by Wiseman Sedibe c/o Black Smoke Agency and Music Freedom Day Festival

In South Africa, Music Freedom Day was hosted for the first time in Johannesburg, and is still ongoing until the end of March as Music Freedom Festival, which began with a media launch on 3 March, and a discussion on music censorship and women, and continues with concerts ad multiple mixed media and arts events. It is aimed at promoting the advancement of women in music by highlighting issues of censorship, sexual objectification, bad salary conditions and discrimination.

» Have a listen to the conversation at the launch – on

Music Freedom Day Bologna. Photo by Jacopo Pezzuto

Music Freedom Day Bologna. Photo by Jacopo Pezzuto

In Italy, Music Freedom Day 2017 saw two events – one of them in Bologna which featured a skype discussion on artistic freedom of expression, music and activism as well as poetry readings and a massive performance from musicians and singers. The event was live streamed and can be seen at



Senegal. Photos by Association Africulturban

Senegal. Photos by Association Africulturban

In Senegal, Music Freedom Day was merged with Women’s Urban Week and two days were dedicated to women in music featuring film screenings, panel discussions and performances. Music Freedom Day was organised by Africulturban in Dakar.

To see footage from all of the events, use the list of links to the Facebook-event pages.

We hope to see you again next year!

Posted on March 20, 2017 at 14:15 by Freemuse · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Posts from Freemuse · Tagged with: 

Thank you for joining MFD 2017

A big thank you to all who made Music Freedom Day 2017 such an outstanding success!

We will be updating the media coverage and photos from all the events at over the next week. In the meantime you can see the continually updated coverage from Music Freedom Day 2017 on

We are now in the process of collecting resources and reports from all MFD organisers, and we expect to have a compilation ready for publication by the end of this month.

We hope to see you all again next year – to protect and celebrate music and musician’s rights to freedom of artistic expression!

Posted on March 7, 2017 at 11:28 by Freemuse · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Posts from Freemuse · Tagged with: 

Podcast: Spotlight on Saudi female artists

What’s it like to be a female artist in one of the world’s most conservative states?

Today is Music Freedom Day, which makes a special focus on women performers and musicians and we therefore bring you this podcast by Big Hass, founder and radio host of Laish Hip HopSaudi’s First FM Hip Hop Radio Show, to examine the current conditions to create and perform for Saudi women.

This special podcast also features the music of several Saudi women artists.

» Listen here:

Duration: 33 minutes

» Listen and share via

» …and join Music Freedom Day on Friday 3 March through and

The image on top of this page is used with permission from 8ies Productions, the company responsible for the video which went viral – more about this on

Posted on March 2, 2017 at 22:40 by Freemuse · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Posts from Freemuse · Tagged with: ,

Women artists speak out – Music Freedom Day 2017

In this four-minute video, women artists from different countries make statements about why Music Freedom Day is important to them – and how women’s space frequently is “compressed”, as Kenyan artist Valentine Zikki puts it. The video highlights the variety of colourful posters for the events.

→ See / share on

Posted on February 28, 2017 at 14:15 by Freemuse · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Posts from Freemuse, Videos for MFD · Tagged with: 

List of events on Music Freedom Day 2017

This year Music Freedom Day is taking place in a number of cities such as Barcelona, Bologna, Copenhagen, Dakar, Geneva, Harare, Johannesburg, Kabul, Milan, Nairobi, New York, Oslo, Peshawar, Rabat, Yangon, and more…


We will continue to update you on the events on and around Music Freedom Day. In the meantime, here are some of the highlights of this year’s Music Freedom Day events:


In 2017, the first Afghan female orchestra Zohra was awarded with the Freemuse award in Geneva. The Seventh Gala Concert of ANIM, which took place in Kabul, was dedicated to Music Freedom Day and was received by a standing ovation at Bayat Media Centre in Arian TV.

» See the BBC photo report in Persian acknowledging the dedication of the concert to the Music Freedom Day on


Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 11.52.19RADIO ONA SANTS MONTJÜIC de BARCELONA: The Catalan radio journalist Albert Reguant for the tenth consecutive year is collaborating and highlighting the annual Music Freedom Day in the radio programme ‘Les Rutes del So’ (‘The Routes of Sound’).

Broadcasting on 94.6 FM and streaming on starting from Tuesday 28 February 2017. The program is dedicated to Music Freedom Day with a selection of music titled ‘Women Rebels’ with songs by women from various countries and periods involved socially and politically, and also have suffered or still suffer the censorship of his works, which have had rebelled or exile, and have also been victims of the silence of the media in their respective countries.

“You will hear the American singer-songwriter ELIZA GILKYSON who promotes political activism, the ecological, the anti-racist, and against sexist discourses of Trump. The veteran Canadian native singer songwriter BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE, pacifist and social activist. MOANA MANIAPOTO, ethnic Maori of New Zealand, and indigenous Mexican ESTUSHA – two artists who have in common the preservation of their people, their ancestral cultures and nature that surrounds them. Remembering two courageous voices that are no longer with us, the singer-songwriter of Western Sahara MARIEM HASSAN, and American singer-songwriter MALVINA REYNOLS, powerful social and political fighters. Our singers, the Catalan LÍDIA PUJOL, and Mallorca singer MARIA del MAR BONET – two voices vindicating to defend the rights of women and the country, and that the censored or silenced concealed many radio and television stations in Spain, just because singing in Catalan language. In the final stretch program, we talk about ‘Songs in the Mist’ – a compilation album with eleven young Iranian singers, since the distance of exile, fills the hope and desire of returning to a more free and tolerant Iran. We end presenting the orchestra ZOHRA, formed by young women students of music of Afghanistan, which received the Freemuse Award 2017 on 25 January in Geneva, Switzerland.”

Albert Reguant is an internationally recognised and specialised music journalist, member of the World Music Charts Europe network.

» You can listen to the podcast on the Internet blog linked to the program during the entire week of 28 February to 5 March 2017:


MFD_DK_kimia_600In Copenhagen, Music Freedom Day will be celebrated at Kimia, Blågårdsgade 2A, between 6-9pm and features a line-up of diverse and interesting female musicians.

The concert is dedicated to the global freedom to express, play and listen to music without fear of repercussions and features the all female line-up of:
Tanja Schlander (Noise music), Mikkeline & Fluxy Fox (Avantgarde noise rock), Dj Frk Skov (Vinyl DJ), Skyggesiden and DJ KCL (Hip Hop), as well as the Iranian poet Shadi Angelina Bazeghi.

Free entrance.

» An updated list

» Facebook event page


MFD_Bakelit600Bakelit Multi Art Center joins in Budapest the global event of Music Freedom Day for the sixth time.

This year Bakelit decided to put an emphasis on the freedom of speech from a more general perspective, including visual artists next to musicians. One of the main personalities of 3 March evening will be Péter Nyári-Sárkány, a Gipsy visual artist who started painting at the age of 25 and since then he was co-creator with different well-known artists. Next to his exhibition Márton Péter Bauer will present his series entitled Discovery. His main artistic concept is to recycle waste.

The next part of the evening will consist of two concerts: Soul Surge and Trains 2 Berlin, both of them representing similar freedom in expressing themselves as the two visual artists. The entry is free for everyone.

» Facebook Event Page


This year Italy sees two Music Freedom Day events.

The longtime partner of Music Freedom Day Italy in Bologna returns for its sixth edition of Music Freedom Day and are marking the day by the meeting of the freedom of ideas, words, sounds and people in the world, against all forms of censorship to culture

This year’s event will be dedicated to all the musicians and censored artists and features a long line-up of poets and musicians as well as a video conference and live streaming at 6pm (GMT+1) with:
El Haqed / L7a9ed (rapper), Freedom of Expression Awards 2015 (Morocco-Belgium)
Mark LeVine: professor, musician, activist, historian (‘Heavy Metal Islam’, Irvine University, USA)
Tilia Korpe: coordinator for Music Freedom Day, female DJ and cultural activist (Denmark)
Organised by Reda Zine

Furthermore, a poetry-music-theatre-concert meetings of:
Brazzo Brazzone (Hannover) in collaboration with ‘Bologna Unesco Creative City of Music’
Mumble Rumble
Great Batucada Mestre Venice
Laboratory Social Afrobeat
Ri-cultural animation: C.A.T. Company Art Traumatic

» See the full programme on this Facebook event page

» Facebook page:

In Milan, Flygirls Milano, hosted by Vaitea, presents a Ladies First Jam and MC’s Track Contest, with a large programme consisting of music, rap, DJ and dance performances as well as live graffiti and a track contest all by women.

At 9pm, Ladies First will host a discussion and debate on the theme of ‘The role of women in the music industry’ with guests: Katerfrancers, Janet Whistle, Ketty Passa, Comagatte, blackberries and as they express.

“This year our jam is twinned with the international event Music Freedom Day 2017, organised by Freemuse, an association that deals with the protection of freedom of expression for musicians worldwide. Their theme this year touched us very closely, and we want to support with our event all the women who fight and are likely to express themselves artistically, such as the Afghan rapper Paradise Sorouri.”

Free entry, donations welcome.

» Facebook event page


Kenya-MFD-flyer_277Music Freedom Day will for the first time be celebrated in Nairobi, arranged by Turning Tables Kenya.

The programme starts at 6pm and features an impressive line-up of all-female performers; singers, mc’s, dj’s and spoken-word artists as well as a discussion and interviews with the artists and audience on What music freedom means, what challenges are faced by female artists in the industry and censorship themes such as; stage names, political instigation and creative licenses.

The artists are Naylan, Hansy, Alison Wanjiku, Acey Gracey and Max, spoken word poetess and hip hop artist, moderated by Carrolyn Njeri.

DJ Miss Ray will be serving the musical backdrop from 7pm followed by a concert with author and rapper MC Sharon, songstress Monitah, alternate and easy listening singer Neo-soulZikki Valentine, singer and poetess Bua, and afro-fusion singer Muchemi.

» You can watch a number of videos from the upcoming performers on the Facebook event page


MFD-Maroc_277Freemuse partner Racines celebrates for the second time Music Freedom Day in Morocco on 3 March 2017 at Le Bistrot du Pietri, Rabat, by organising a debate followed by a concert.

The debate will start at 7pm on the theme ‘Female artists and freedom of artistic expression and creation’ with the participation of Naima Zitan (theatre director, Théâtre Aquarium), Noor (dancer), Dounia Benslimane (Racines), and the facilitation of Sara Soujar (gender activist).

The concert will start at 9pm with the Loon band au féminin. Free entrance.

Racines is a Moroccan non-profit organisation advocating for the integration of culture into public, human, social and economic development policies, in Morocco and throughout Africa.

» Facebook event page


Myanmar_600For the very first time Music Freedom Day will be organised with a concert in Myanmar at the Kandaw Gyi Park, Mini–Zoo, by Turning Tables Myanmar, where they will open the space to see and feel the music and freedom of expression and for all without fees.

Starts 6:30pm. Ends 9:30pm. This year, the focus is on women and music freedom.

The artists performing are all female, and consist of Gabriel, Myat Thit Sar, Raefonix: Gang The House, Rachel Tayza, Mai Kimmy, Maze of Mara, The Myth and Y.A.K. The artists will perform three songs each and sharing their experiences in the music industry as women, five minutes each. Free entrance.

» Facebook event page


There are two organisers doing Music Freedom Day-events in Oslo: KKV / Erik Hillestad and SafeMUSE.

MFDnorway_SafeMuse600SafeMUSE event
Art Under Threat – Women in Music @ By:Larm Festival
Killings, imprisonments, abductions, attacks, persecutions, prosecutions, detainments, censoring… This year SafeMUSE is collaborating with music festival By:Larm in Oslo on Music Freedom Day by a conversation with Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director – who after two decades in the forefront fighting for musicians right to free expression he is now stepping back.

The session will also feature a presentation of the Freemuse annual statistics on censorship and attacks on artistic freedom 2016.


» See the extended Music Freedom Day program here:

Norway-SyrianPrayers-277KKV / Jakob Kirke:
Live performance of ancient Syrian hymns and prayers in the crypt of Kulturkirken Jakob, Oslo. Mansour Zayter, sunni-muslim Syrian singer, together with a choir. The concert is a release event for the album ‘Syrian Prayers – Sacred Music From Bilad Al Sham’, supported by UD and Music Freedom Day. The event starts at 6pm on 3 March.


» Facebook Event Page


MFD-Pakistan_277This year Pakistan again sees two Music Freedom Day events.

The role of women in music is being highlighted in Swat valley, where all music was strictly forbidden by the Taliban. Over 500 music shops were shut down and female performers were brutally attacked.

As long time partners of Music Freedom Day, Takhleeq-TDF in Peshawar this year will present an impressive program which will highlight the importance of freedom to express music, the right to attend concerts and especially for women to perform.

The programme will feature a number of prominent singers and different speakers will talk about ‘role of women in music’, post conflict cultural narrative of swat and freedom of artistic expression, and bring back music to swat and reclaim public space where it was banned and brutally attacked. A visual presentation of victim artists of the region will also be screened.

» Facebook page:

peshawar-press-club-Flyer2_600Culture Journalist Forum
Culture Journalist Forum is going to conduct an event regarding Music Freedom Day at Peshawar Press Club Zubair Mir Hall on 3 March. The CJF will furthermore be conducting similar events across KP and Fata to highlight issues of artistes and singers.

» Facebook Event Page


SPOTLIGHT ON SAUDI FEMALE ARTISTS – A podcast about music & artistic freedom in the world’s most conservative state with Big Hass.


Senegal-2_277Africulturban once again partners up for Music Freedom Day, which for the 2017 edition will take place over two days 3-4 March at Institut Cervantes, Dakar, as part of Urban Women Week.

Friday 3 March presents a screening of the film ‘Brooklyn’ and a storytelling session with the female rapper Fatim Sy and tv-hostess Maimouna Back Again about ‘Women in Musical Instruction’ and an exchange with the public. There will also be a live acoustic session with Mamy Cruz, Coumbis Sora, Jb and DJ sets by DJ Zeyna & DJ Nina.

Saturday 4 March sees a major line-up for a concert with 10 female singers, rap artists and dancers.

» Facebook Event Page


MFD-SouthAfricaPoster_277A Music Freedom Day festival will take place at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg and at various locations.

Programme and agenda from 10am to 12 noon:
– Media Arrival and Breakfast
– Opening and Welcome [Wiseman Sedibe – Do What You Love]
– Music Freedom Day: [Sfiso Atomza Buthelezi – Musicians and Censorship]
– Mel Madiba Artwork Reveal – [Charmaine Ngobeni – Conte Creatives]

3pm till late – music performances:
– Open Jam Session with University of Johannesburg Mu.So [Music Society]
– Leomile – Band
– Wenawedwa – Duo
– Si Noire – DJ
– Orali – Solo
– Nj Kunene – Band

» Facebook page:


At the United Nations in Geneva, Freemuse is co-sponsoring a side-event with the Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights on the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on cultural rights, including women’s right to artistic freedom. Freemuse Senior Program Officer Magnus Ag will speak at the event.


In New York, philosopher, author and human rights activist Austin Dacey will be arranging a listening party featuring silences voices and a lecture introducing some issues of music freedom to the music students at Mercy College.


Zimbabwe-flyer277In commemoration of International Women’s Month and partnering for Music Freedom Day, Hustler’s Market is all about supporting women.

Hustler’s Market is Harare’s monthly food and design market featuring locally made fresh’n’funky urban wear, crafts and street food.

Music Freedom Day will be hosted at Moto Republik – Zimbabwe’s cutting edge creative hub featuring all women DJs and performers to fashion and food.

» Facebook Event Page



Posted on February 28, 2017 at 13:11 by Freemuse · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Posts from organisers · Tagged with: