Archive for "February, 2011"

Wisconsin to Tahrir Square, A Song United

Music/Video Feb 26, 2011 No Comments

From the Dropkick Murphys to Steve Earle, Tom Morello, Wayne Kramer, Tim Mcilrath, and others, musicians unafraid of being in the frontlines for a more equal world are taking a stand. Drawing inspiration from the bravery seen in protests across the Middle East, the now full-on Union-backed protests and sit-in in Madison are gaining more and more support from musicians.

Yesterday afternoon I was on the phone with Matt Rothschild, ed. in chief of The Progressive, based out of Wisconsin, and with Eric Drooker, the ubiquitous artist behind numerous global justice posters, discussing the rise of people power and the excitement of Union involvement. If there’s one theme we have to elevate now, it’s that there IS a direct connection between what’s happening in #Wisconisn and #Egypt, #Yemen, #Iraq, #Libya and more. We have to make sure that the mainstream press cannot pigeon hole these as isolated events. This was the intention behind Egyptian organizers sending Pizza to Madison organizers.

This is NEXT  WORLD organizing. We know that a more equal world, not only in Egypt or the United States, but between all countries and working people, is imperative to the survival of our planet. Tahrir Square and Madison can and must be seen as small steps toward building a global movement for that more equal world. To get there, we have to be a generation of Ghandi’s and MLK Jr’s.

We are protesting FOR a world in which we live more equally across global borders so that job flight and brain drain don’t happen, and in which everyday people everywhere are educated enough to help our global society beat over-population, create a sustainable environment, overcome disease, and bring an end to conflict over resources and land before it’s too late. For that, we need teachers, and it means we need teacher’s and workers being paid livable wages with equal economic rights across the globe, not just in Madison or Tunis.

We have to join in a Song United. Steve, Tom, and everyone, while we support the Unions in Wisconsin, and the Democracy movements across MENA, this has to be the first step towards that big dream, a sustainable and integrated movement for real change in our human society.

Essakane Film is the story of the most remote music festival in the world

Featured, News Feb 12, 2011 No Comments

Check out their site for more information!

Read about the Essakane, the film at Here is a quote from the website, “Essakane Film is a feature length documentary film about the most remote music festival in the world—the Festival au Désert—and the battle to make it happen. Once a year, just outside of Timbuktu in the sand dunes of the Sahara, a music festival that serves to sustain peace and resolve regional conflict rocks the socks off an audience of thousands for three days straight. From Robert Plant to Jimmy Buffett, musicians from around the world have journeyed through the mystical terrain of the Sahara to jam with Malian, Tuareg, and West African musicians at the Festival au Désert.

As a homegrown approach to sustanning peace, democracy, and for developing tourism in Mali, the festival has brought significant cultural awareness and economic development to the local communities in the region and the tourism sector in Mali. But sadly, over the past few years, security warnings issued by Western governments have increased, affecting the attendance at the festival and threatening its viability. But that will not stop the festival organizers, the community, and the musicians who rock the stage from putting on another great show in 2011.”

Soundtrack for the Arab Revolution

engage, Music/Video Feb 11, 2011 No Comments

Click here to hear the top songs and poems of the Arab Revolution spreading across the Middle East and North Africa. Send us your songs or suggestions of songs to post in our comments field and we’ll review them and upload as soon as possible. These are historic times. Martin Luther King Jr. said “freedom songs are the soul of the movement.” He understood that movement’s can’t succeed through politics or demonstrations alone, they need songs to spread into the hearts of every human being alive, into the Tahrir Square in each of our hearts. difrent  brings you today’s freedom songs and the artists that are singing them! We need freedom songs now. Be sure to check out our friends at as well who are also getting out a bunch of great stuff.

Amel Mathlouthi أمال مثلوثي – كلمتي حرة   “Kelmti Horra” or “My Word Is Free”

Stephan Said ستيفن سعيد – أحب عيشة الحرية  “Aheb Aisht Al Huriyah” or “I love the Life of Freedom”

Arabian Knightz feat Shadia Mansour, FredwreckNot Your Prisoner

Bird, The Truth, produced by DJ Nas “Egypt Fight Song” from

Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Freeway, Ayah, Amir Sulaiman – #Jan25 (Produced by Sami Matar)

Suheir Hammad: Poems of war, peace, women, power

Khalas Mixtape Vol 1 Mish B3eed Khalas/Enough: a mixtape of North African artists from Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya joining forces for regime change in Libya

Arab-American artist-activist Stephan Said cuts classic Egyptian song of unity

Featured, News Feb 03, 2011 No Comments

Arab-American singer-songwriter and peace activist Stephan Said has just released a new version of the classic Egyptian civil rights anthem “Aheb Aisht Al Huriya” (“I Love the Life of Freedom”) in both YouTube video and MP3 formats.

The MP3 version, says Said, is free for use “by all those who are non-violently working to build the international movement for a more just society.” It can be downloaded at

Both the MP3 and YouTube video are accompanied by a taped statement by Said expressing hope and stressing nonviolence within the context of the current turmoil in the Middle East.

The lyrics to “Aheb Aisht Al Huriya” were written by the great Egyptian poet-laureate Ahmed Shawki, with music by the legendary singer-composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab.

“It’s an anthem to global unity and equality that I learned from my father,” says Said of the 1930s song. Reflecting on the current political climate, both in the Middle East and throughout the world, he states, “This is our moment — the moment when each of us must summon our highest, most poetic selves to courageously step into the brilliance of the next world, a world already in the making.”

Said had previously recorded “Aheb Aisht Al Huriya” for his forthcoming album difrent, which is produced by Hal Willner and will be released in September on the International Day of Peace.

“It’s bizarre to have recorded this renowned Egyptian freedom anthem from the ’30s and to see what’s happening now,” marvels Said. “I couldn’t have handpicked a song be more perfect: such high poetry, that’s absolutely apolitical but Kahlil Gibran-esque as an allegorical poem to freedom and global unity. So what else to do but give this expression as support to those people who are taking such a stand — and give a loving cultural voice to it that can help unify people’s emotions and spirits and lift them.”

Said sings the song in Arabic and, in the video, displays the English translation on handheld poster boards. The song played yesterday on Democracy Now! the daily TV/radio news program airing via public media, and has also been programmed on the U.S. government-financed Middle East news/information satellite TV channel Alhurra.

Meanwhile, difrent is slated for release via The Orchard Group, which will reissue Said’s entire back catalog this spring — including a previously unreleased album with John Alagia, who has produced John Mayer and Jason Mraz. The reissue conincides with Said’s residency at East Village world music club Drom, where he’ll perform the second Thursday of the month in March, April and May.

Difrent is Said’s first album to be released under his given name — which is pronounced sigh-EED. The Iraqi-American has gone by Stephan Smith, and won acclaim for his song “The Bell” — “the first major song against the war in Iraq,” according to The New York Times, and the first viral protest MP3 and music video, according to Billboard.

Later the title track of a 2003 EP, the song, which was recorded with Pete Seeger, Ween’s Dean Ween and hip-hop artist Mary Harris and backed by a viral video, was also hailed by The Guerilla News Network as the “anti-war anthem for our generation” and aired on over 100 public and college radio stations.

“My whole career direction is in using my music as much as possible as an agent for social change, and updating and pushing the envelope as to how much we can do for the global generation,” says Said, who’s using the new album to advance its namesake organization, difrent, which started up last year. He characterizes it as a global broadcasting platform for music for social change.

“More artists and organizations are using music as an agent for social change,” he says. “The political processes are failing, but the Internet is opening doors to bypass it and use our art to spearhead necessary change.”

He cites independent involvement by the likes of John Legend, the Roots, Nas, Damian Marley, South Korean female group The Messenger Band, Brazil’s Afroreggae, Sudanese rap artist Emmanuel Jal, Alicia Keys, and Ghanaian hip-hop artist Blitz the Ambassador, all of whom are likewise using music to express global realities and effect social change.

“We need a place to bring us all together to form a movement and build momentum instead of having one-offs that disappear,” says Said, who envisioned the difrent platform when his career began a decade ago — but technology wasn’t there to enable it.

“It was pre-YouTube and Facebook, but a lot has changed since then,” he continues, noting that organizations like Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Keep A Child Alive now incorporate music and musicians in their campaigns. “Right now the tools and organizations are there, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel in putting them together.”

Difrent is based in New York, “but really, it’s global by nature, involved with schools and partnering with groups all over,” says Said. “The main thing is the partnership with thousands of Model elementary, high school and university UN schools worldwide [Model UN schools simulate the United Nations bodies like the General Assembly and Security Council] and the Millenium Development Goals Awards [the New York-based ceremony honors governments and individuals who strive to meet such goals as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and achieving universal primary education] and a growing number of interfaith and youth organizations to develop and distribute curriculum that engages youth worldwide in making their own music and culture for a more equal and sustainable world.”

Said headlined the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Awards gala last fall, where he announced the launch of difrent. In December, he received the 2010 Meyer Risk Taker’s Award from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, the organization that organized Jewish support for Nelson Mandela in the early 1990s.

Concludes Said, “The movement begins with us.”

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