Deeyah - music producer and filmmaker- is a versatile artist and a passionate human rights activist.
Born and raised in Oslo, Norway, to Muslim immigrant parents, Deeyah was immersed in music from an early age. Trained within the North Indian/Pakistani classical vocal tradition of Khayal for more than fourteen years, she had the privilege of being one of the very few female students of music maestro Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan.
In her native Norway, Deeyah has been part of several critically acclaimed albums and collaborations under her birth name Deepika. From an early age Deeyah's unique musical abilities captured the attention of world renowned musicians, artists as well as legendary music industry veterans. This appreciation has given her the opportunity to collaborate with such greats as her teachers Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan, Jan Garbarek, Andy Summer, David Lindley and Knut Reiersrud.
As impressive as her musical accomplishments are, a dark shadow has always followed her from the very beginning of her career. Being from a Muslim family, being a woman and having chosen music as her profession, Deeyah has had to dodge bullets of criticism her whole life. After years of suffering in silence, having to endure constant intimidation, physical threats and an attack while she was performing, as well as a failed abduction attempt from her school grounds, Deeyah left Norway in 1995 for the UK. When the same problem emerged in the UK in early 2005, Deeyah once again packed her bags, and left for the safety of the United States.
Here, Deeyah finally made the first step towards reclaiming her life through ending her career as a performer. She had never had a choice to be a music artist – the profession had been chosen for her by her father when she was still a child. However, she continued to work with musicians and a producer. In 2010 she co-produced the critically acclaimed Listen To The Banned album with the program manager of Freemuse, Ole Reitov. The CD features artists from Asia, Africa and the Middle East who have experienced persecution, censorship or imprisonment for their artistic expression. In 2011 she produced Nordic Woman, which was followed by Iranian Woman, both of which celebrated women’s contributions to traditional music, as well as producing Echoes Of Indus with Ashraf Sharif Khan Poonchwala.
Deeyah now devotes the majority of her time to promote human rights and freedom of expression through a range of self-started initiatives and platforms, created through her production company Fuuse. Her debut film Banaz: A love story, released in 2012, won a Peabody Award, and the 2013 Emmy Award for Best International Film, and the British Royal Television Society nomination for Best Current Affairs Documentary. This was followed by the release of Jihad in 2015, which explored the roots of extremism through two years of face to face interviews with convicted terrorists, jihadi fighters and former extremists.
In 2009 she was awarded with the international "Freedom to Create Prize". In 2012 Deeyah was awarded the Ossietzky Prize by PEN for outstanding achievements for freedom of expression. She was granted a Ford Fellowship in their programme ‘The Art of Change’, and she was selected as Young Global Leader in the field of the arts, the Plan Jentepris in Norway and the Gunnar Sønnsteby Memorial Award. In 2015, she won the prestigious University of Oslo Human Rights Award.
Her media and arts production company Fuuse has also organised several events, from a two-day international celebration of women’s art, music and activism which featured well-known women activists, such as Sheema Kermani, Shirin Ebadi, Mona Eltahawy, Nawal el Saadawi and Hina Jilani to intimate single topic discussion panels on radicalisaiton, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. In 2016 Deeyah launched an online magazine and event series for women of Muslim heritage called sister-hood.
Freemuse - Freedom of Musical Expression
Freemuse is the only organisation in the world advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers. Born out of the 1st World Conference on Music & Censorship in 1998, a core group of musicians, journalists, researchers and human rights activists decided to document, analyze and disseminate knowledge about global music censorship.
Today www.freemuse.org contains the world's largest documentation on violations of freedom of expressions as they apply to musicians and composers with stories from more than 100 countries.
The website presents unique interviews with musicians, who have suffered censorship and persecution. The annual Music Freedom Day, 3 March, initiated by Freemuse promotes freedom of musical expression.
Through a global network Freemuse supports musicians and composers on trial.
Freemuse publishes in-depth studies and case study reports - all available from the website.
If you wish to know more or to support the work of Freemuse visit www.freemuse.org.