By Leah Lalich Music Freedom Day, celebrated each year on March 3, is a global event organized by Freemuse, a Danish organization that advocates for the freedom of musical expression. The day provides an opportunity to show solidarity with musicians and fans alike who believe in the human right to express themselves through music. By holding concerts and seminars or creating radio features, films, articles, and songs dedicated to Music Freedom Day, Freemuse invites the public to bring continued awareness and support to the issue of music censorship and the many musicians who are continually being persecuted for the music they produce, perform, and compose. Although music produced in North America may not seem confrontational or politically charged, many musicians in different parts of the world are being attacked, imprisoned, and in some cases killed for the music they create. Freemuse’s 2012 annual report of violations of freedom and musical expression shows 173 instances where musicians from 32 countries were wrongfully detained, prosecuted, attacked, tortured, and abducted. It was also recorded that, in the same year, six musicians were put to death for their work. 2013 also saw several notable cases of music censorship. On October 29, Tanzanian hip-hop artist Nay wa Mitego received death threats after releasing a politicized song. On August 30, Rappers Weld El 15 and Klay BBJ were beaten and arrested at a music festival for performing a song with lyrics that were considered “insulting” to police. They were sentenced to 21 months in prison. To many, the music they listen to or create is a universal way of expressing their feelings. But situations such as the most recent Pussy Riot developments make it clearer that music may not be as free of an outlet as one thinks. In the realm of free expression, the struggle is felt across all forms of communication, not just the words of journalists. Regardless of the nature or medium, no one should be penalized for expressing his or her thoughts. Through Music Freedom Day, Freemuse celebrates musical expression and also opens a conversation about how no one should be told what to play, sing, and listen to.
- • Visit the Music Freedom website
- • Register an event, song or project dedicated to Music Freedom Day to have it featured on their website
- • Download the Music Freedom Website logo to receive a poster or t-shirt
Leah Lalich is a student at Western University currently completing her degree in Media and the Public Interest.
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