United Kingdom: Songlines review of Freemuse CD: ‘It is Top of the World’

11 August 2010

Songlines, an influential UK-based world music magazine, chose the Freemuse CD ‘Listen to the banned’ as Top of the World in their August 2010 issue.

“You need to hear this record – as much for the quality of the music as for what it represents,” recommended the reviewer for the British music magazine. In each issue of Songlines, selecting from hundreds of new releases, the editor chooses 10 favourite albums, and a track from each album appears on the magazine’s CD covermount. For the August 2010 issue of Songlines, the editor chose ‘Listen to the banned’ as Top of the World.

‘Listen to the banned’ features artists who have suffered censorship and persecution including great international artists such as Marcel Khalife and Tiken Jah Fakoly, and the imprisoned singer Lapiro de Mbanga from Cameroon.

The CD was published by Norway’s most successful music label, Grappa Records, on 3 March 2010, and then in the United Kingdom on 8 August 2010 with The New Powerhouse as distributor.

In USA, the CD is distributed by Valley Entertainment, a company that previously released CDs by Freemuse Award winner Mahsa Vahdat. ‘Listen to the banned’ was released in the US on 25 August 2010.

Very positive reviews
The CD was co-produced by artist Deeyah and Freemuse and has been very well received by European Broadcasters. Special radio programmes were presented in Switzerland, Czech Republic, Norway, Spain, Germany, Holland, Sweden and Denmark, and half a year after its initial release ‘Listen to the banned’ was still a favourite amongst European world music DJs and highlighted month after month on the Top 20 of the World Music Charts Europe.

Since its release ‘Listen to the banned’ has also been listed as ‘CD of the week’ in the popular British newspaper London Evening Standard as well as on the online magazine in Holland.

The CD launches have been followed up by the use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

Radio interview
Interviewed by Jungeltelegrafen, the popular world music programme of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) in Norway, reggae artist Tiken Jah Fakoly strongly supported his imprisoned colleague Lapiro de Mbanga:

“Lapiro did what artists must do in our societies, where people cannot speak freely. He fights for democracy and they should release him,” Tiken Jah Fakoly said. He added that he found ‘Listen to the banned’ an excellent idea:

“Normally people get trophies for selling most records, but this CD highlights artists, who fight for justice and that’s a good idea,” said the Freemuse Award 2008 winner.


  Read more about the CD

Listen to the music of the album

Purchase the album

Track List

Freemuse & Deeyah Present: Listen To The Banned – video on YouTube


Musicians inprisoned, tortured, exiled
Lapiro de Mbanga is not the only artist featured on the CD, who has experienced imprisonment. So has the Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunc and the late Uighur singer, Kurash Sultan, who was imprisoned and tortured by Chinese authorities and after his escape found a new home in Sweden and a very fruitful musical collaboration with Ale Möller.

Several of the artists featured on the CD have collaborated with Freemuse for many years, and their stories are told on They include Marcel Khalife, who spent time in a court room in Beirut charged with blasphemy, Chiwoniso, who was harassed by police in Zimbabwe and Mahsa Vahdat, the Iranian singer, who has performed at Music Freedom Day and at Freemuse related festivals several times.

‘Listen to the banned’ includes a booklet portraying some of the world’s most renowned artists facing censorship. Their stories are often painful, but they are also the stories of remarkable artists, who will not give in. Artists who believe they can make a difference.



Here On Earth – Jean’s Pick of the Week – video on YouTube


‘Quality control pleasingly high’

“From Israel to Iran, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, musicians have been at best banned, at worst imprisoned or even murdered, for the music they produce.
Perhaps because this CD has been compiled by Deehah, who is herself a composer as well as being a human-rights activist, the quality control is pleasingly high. So even if it wasn’t for the importance of the context, this collection of austere, haunting ballads and exuberant dance music would be a compelling and moving listen.”

Review in The Independent – 12 December 2010:
‘Various artists, Listen to the Banned (Freemuse)’


 Where to buy the CD

United Kingdom online sale

USA online sale

Norway online sale

Reviews and interviews

The Africa Report – 22 April 2011:
‘Not afraid to sing the truth’

Mid-Day [in India] – 6 March 2011:
‘Jailed for singing’

The Independent – 12 December 2010:
‘Various artists, Listen to the Banned (Freemuse)’

The Guardian – 5 December 2010:
‘Banned singers join together for an album of hope’

Here on Earth, Radio Without Borders – 10 november 2010:
‘Listen to the banned’

B4U TV – 8 November 2010:
‘It’s time to listen to the banned’

Global Voices – 28 September 2010:
‘Songlines Top of the World’

Songlines Magazine – 1 August 2010:
‘CD Brings together banned and censored musicians’

London Evening Standard – 6 August 2010:
‘CDs of the week’ – 12 August 2010:
‘Listen to the Banned cd van de week’ [in Dutch]

Bergens Tidende (in Norway) – 31 March 2010:
‘Den farlige musikken’ [PDF in Norwegian]

World Music Central – 29 January 2010:
‘Listen to the Banned’ CD Introduces Politically Censored Musicians


1. World Music Charts Europe:
‘Listen to the banned’ landed on a No. 13 out of 866 nominated CDs in 2010.
This was the highest score of all world music compilations of 2010.
The full 2010-list.

2. Spin the Globe:
‘Listen to the Banned’ was no. 1 on Spin the Globe’s November 2010 Top-10 Chart.
Spin the Globe is a global music show airing weekly on KAOS 89.3 FM in Olympia, Washington, USA.

Social and online media

Press contacts

Grappa Records: melanie [AT] grappa [DOT] no
Freemuse:   ole.reitov [AT] freemuse [DOT] org

Read more

Facts about the CD album – album website

'Listen to the banned' on Facebook‘Listen to the banned’ on Facebook



‘Listen to the banned’ is distributed by different companies in Europe and the US.

The CD is published by the Norwegian music publisher Grappa:
     Grappa Musikkforlag AS
Akersgata 7
0158 Oslo, Norway
Att: Melanie, e-mail: melanie [AT] grappa [DOT] no

UK distribution
The New Powerhouse
Gateway Business Centre, Kangley Bridge Road
London SE26 5AN, England
E-mail: eddie.wilkinson [AT] propernote [DOT] co [DOT] uk

USA distribution
Valley Entertainment

Home / News / United Kingdom: Songlines review of Freemuse CD: ‘It is Top of the World’