Listen to forbidden female voices on Spotify

22 February 2017

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Did you know that…
Women are banned from singing in public in some countries?
Women cannot attend a concert in some places?
The music industry is still unequal?

This is why Freemuse is focusing on women on Music Freedom Day on 3 March 2017


In Saudi Arabia and Iran, women performers are not allowed to sing solo or play instruments in public. In north-western Pakistan, women singers have been killed and attacked, and in several countries women performers are socially, culturally and economically marginalised. Globally, women musicians face especially difficult conditions and are often subject to industry discrimination, sexual objectification and significantly less bookings than male musicians.

This year’s Spotify Playlist features female voices that have been silenced. Make them heard by sharing this playlist and you automatically support Music Freedom Day.



Aziza Brahim: ‘Buscando La Paz’   The authorities in Morocco censor her music because her songs are addressing the cause of the Sahrawi people in West Sahara who have been tortured, killed, or reported missing during the conflict that has driven hundreds of thousands Sahrawis into neighbouring Algeria. Read more on

Sarah Jones featuring DJ Vadim: ‘Your Revolution’   The Oregon radio station, KBOO-FM, was fined $7,000 by the FCC for playing a song with “unmistakable patently offensive sexual references”, in which Sarah Jones references the iconic Gil-Scott Heron song with the message “You Revolution will not happen between these thighs”. Read more on

Helly Luv: ‘Revolution’   Kurdish singer Helly Luv, 25, allegedly received death threats from ISIS Islamist militants since release of her first music video in February 2014. Read more on

Rim Banna: ‘Sarah’   Palestinian singer who was not allowed to enter Egypt for concert. Read more on

Dixie Chicks: ‘Not Ready To Make Nice’   This top selling band received death threats and where banned by hundreds of radio stations following a critical remark on President Bush (and the war on Iraq) at a concert in London in 2003. The band was silenced but returned triumphantly in 2006 with this song. Read more on

Souad Massi: ‘Bladi’   She is the exiled voice of Algeria. The Algerian singer and guitarist’s music was banned in Algeria which she fled in 1999 and now lives in Paris. Read more on

Mahsa Vahdat & Mighty Sam McClain: ‘Silent song’   Women are not allowed to perform solo in Iran. Mahsa Vahdat has established a career outside Iran, but is never played in Iran. Read more on

Lucrecia: ‘La Noche de la Iguana’   Lucrecia left Cuba for Spain and is not allowed to return to the country. The reason? This song ‘La Noche de la Iguana’ (The Night Of The Iguana) – a freedom anthem from the album ‘Censuré à Cuba’. Read more on

• [Freemuse Spotlight – by Comrade Fatso]

Pussy Riot: ‘Keep on Rocking In the Free World’   Imprisoned for protesting against Vladimir Putin, Pussy Riot can not perform on regular stages in Russia neither would state controlled media play this song). Read more on

I.A: ‘Paper Planes’   Censored by MTV due to gunshots in the rhythm. Read more on

Amy Winehouse: ‘Rehab’   Winehouse was banned twice from performing in the US. Read more on

Billie Holiday: ‘Strange Fruit’   Fearing the reaction of southern music retailers and the affiliates of the Columbia Records/CBS-owned radio stations, Columbia Records refused to allow her to record the song that was originally inspired by a photograph and news story about lynching in the South. After some negotiating, an arrangement was worked out between Columbia Records and the independent label; Commodore Records. The song was also banned from several radio stations in the US. Read more on and

Maryam Mursal: ‘Somali Udiida Ceb’   Mursal made her living as a musical taxi driver, because she was banned from performing. She was taken in to custody, questioned by police, because her song ulimada is said to contain a devastating critique of the regime. Source: Ole Reitov, From diva to driver, in: Index of Censorship ‘Smashed Hits’ Volume 27 6/1998, p.74.

Chiwoniso Maraire: ‘Zvichapera’   Originally a strong supporter of President Robert Mugabe’s land reforms in Zimbabwe, Chiwoniso Maraire started openly criticizing the lack of competence, the increasing corruption and lack of free speech. After experiencing interrogations by the police, she decided to leave Zimbabwe in 2007. Read more on

Madonna: ‘Justify My Love’   MTV banned the music video because it contained scenes of sadomasochism, homosexuality, cross-dressing, and group sex. Read more on and

Kamilya Jubran (with Werner Hasler): ‘Al-Shaatte’ Al-Akhar’   Lead singer of Palestinian music group Sabreen representing the voice of resistance and struggle for freedom, Jubran went and created a new style of a modern Arabic song. As any other Palestinian artist carrying an Israeli passport, she is limited in her freedom of movement and in the distribution of her music. Read more on

Hang on the box: ‘I am not sexy’   The girl punk band were forced to pull out of the NEW WORLD DISORDER TOUR after the Chinese government deemed their music as “inappropriate”. They were forced to cancel their scheduled dates after the government denied the band visas to travel. Read more on

Alanis Morissette: ‘Ironic’   After the 9/11 attack in New York, a list of 160 “lyrically inappropriate” songs is supposed to have been distributed to 1,200 radio stations in the US. This song is one of them. You can find the list here:

Deeyah: ‘Pashto Lullaby’   Deeyah stopped her career as a singer having been attacked and received threats on her. Read more on

Tracy Chapman: ‘Freedom Now’   Two songs – ‘Freedom Now’ and ‘Material World’ – were considered undesirable by the censorship committee of South African Broadcasting Corporation, SABC. Read more on

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» Read more about Music Freedom Day on MusicFreedomDay

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