Music Across Borders: Artists from the Seven Banned Nations

May 18th, 2017
Music Across Borders: Artists from the Seven Banned Nations

Donald Trump's Executive Order (which is currently under a restraining order) banning travel from Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, and Libya have forced us to ask difficult questions about who we are as a nation. Do we want to remain a welcoming country, a nation of immigrants? If so, we must continue to celebrate the brave people from around the world who have left their homes to seek a new one here. In the spirit of resistance, we've assembled a list of musicians from the seven countries. Some are from the past, others are producing work right now, and some have even been directly affected by the travel ban themselves. They bridge the past and the future, combining traditional melodies and rhythms to produce new sounds. They are masters of their instruments, playing among the best musicians in the world. Some are refugees. We must continue to celebrate all the contributions of these nations, and welcome those who need help most.

Sudan: Sufyvn

Sufvyn is a Sudanese producer who creates hypnotic hip hop instrumental beats by sampling traditional Sudanese music.

Syria: Kinan Azmeh

Kinan Azmeh is a clarinetist who was caught in the travel ban while on tour in Beirut after living in the United States for 16 years. He has performed with Yo Yo Ma and other greats.

Somalia: K’Naan

A refuge from Somalia, K'Naan and his family got the last plane out of Somalia before the rebels hit Mogadishu. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

Libya: Ibn Thabit

Ibn Thait is an anonymous rapper who criticized the Gaddafi government. He retired from music in 2011, but his music inspired many of the youth who participated in the Arab Spring.

Yemen: A-Wa

These Yemeni sisters combine traditional singing with electronic beats, which resulted in their hit "Habib Galbi."

Iran: The Muckers

The Muckers are a rock band that has been playing underground despite Iran's strict ban on Western music. Trump's travel ban has disrupted their latest tour.

Iraq: Kadim al Sahir

Kadim al Sahir is a wildly poular Iraqi singer whose music spans political themes, pop songs, ballads, and more.