Active war zones are the last place you’d expect to find original musical expression, but these 3 artists are facing danger from bullets and bombs to send their message to the world.
Most recently, the internet has been fascinated with Kurdish pop singer Helly Luv’s latest release “Revolution”, which you can check out below:
Helly Luv – Revolution
Depicting the invasion of a peaceful Kurdish village, the video was actually filmed only 3km away from the frontline against ISIS, and filming was interrupted several times by gunfire. The child of a female Peshmerga fighter, Helly moved back from Los Angeles to spend part of her time in Irbil, 55 miles from Mosul. In doing so she made herself a target for IS, who have added her to their Most Wanted list.
Helly’s video seems to have a mixed message; on the one hand she wants to “Stop the Violence”, but she does this while performing in a Peshmerga uniform alongside Peshmerga fighters conducting military maneuvres. However, Revolution still demonstrates the power of music to communicate in the midst of war.
VOLCANO – C5
Libyan rapper VOLCANO is another artist using music to put forward their side’s message. He filmed the video for C5 while fighting against the militia Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi; in this interview he describes a situation where he was stuck in one location because of nearby snipers.
VOLCANO sees his music as an act of defiance against the militants, going so far as to film at still-smoldering bomb sites and organising a concert with friends and fellow fighters.
Karim Wasfi’s music is poignant in a different way. Unaligned with any side, the conductor of the Iraq National Symphony Orchestra became famous in 2015 when a video of his cello performance went viral. When a car bomb exploded in the streets of Baghdad, Wasfi decided to perform at the site:
“It was an action to try to equalise things, to reach the equilibrium between ugliness, insanity and grotesque, indecent acts of terror – to equalise it, or to overcome it, by acts of beauty, creativity and refinement.” (speaking to Al Jazeera, May 2015)
High profile musicians like Wasfi face danger in Iraq, as groups like ISIS are opposed to any form of public performance. While he holds US citizenship and his wife and child are living in Virginia, he still remains and practices music as a countermeasure to his country’s descent into violence.