4 March 2016



This year, Music Freedom Day commemorated the victims of the attack at the Bataclan Club in Paris in November 2015. It was a day for everyone fighting for human rights such as the right to perform and listen to music and to do so without any fear.

As an annual, global event, Music Freedom Day is a powerful, united manifestation to support persecuted, prosecuted and imprisoned musicians, many of whose only crime has been that they have spoken up against authorities and insisted on the right to express themselves through their music.

It is a day to highlight the role and impact of music in our societies. Worldwide, musicians’ and composers’ rights to freedom of expression are being violated. Join us on 3 March 2017!

Music is a human right and so is the right to access music events without fear.

Reports from around the world on Music Freedom Day 2016

Global | GermanyHungary | Italy | Netherlands | Norway | Pakistan | Senegal | Spain | Sweden | Turkey | USA |


‘From Zombies to Revolutionaries’

Freemuse presents the music video for a unique track with a group of today’s most powerful Arab and Iranian revolutionary artists joining together to cover Fela Kuti’s most powerful political song, ‘Zombie’.

» More information about this collaboration and of the music video


Special song recorded exclusively for broadcasters for Music Freedom Day

Background to the recording

A special audio track featuring Mali’s Songhoy Blues with special guests is available to broadcasters worldwide upon request. Recorded by Mark LeVine, the group has made a new version of one of Fela Kuti’s most famous grooves ‘Shakara’, with new lyrics written by the band riffing off the original’s condemnation of the rich Nigerians who showed off their wealth as so many suffered in grinding poverty. Songhoy Blues’ version of ‘Shakara’ takes Fela’s Afrobeat in a new, Malian-driven direction.

Songhoy Blues is also featured in the documentary ‘They Will Have To Kill Us First – Malian Music in Exile’, which was released in the USA as part of Music Freedom Day.

Details about the song:

Name of song: Shakara

Composers: Fela Kuta, Songhoy Blues, Mark LeVine

Lyrics: Fela Kuti, Songhoy Blues

Artists: Songhoy Blues

Production Company – Produced by, Songhoy Blues, Mark LeVine, Manjul, Reda Zine and Anton Pukshansky

Recorded in: Bamako, January 31-February 1, 2016

For any broadcaster interested in airing this song, please contact Freemuse.


‘They Will Have To Kill Us First’ – malian music in exile

They Will have To Kill Us First  is a documentary about Malian music in exile, following musicians in Mali in the wake of a jihadist takeover and subsequent banning of music. As a part of Music Freedom Day, this film was screened and/or broadcasted in 55 countries around the world.

Press coverage from the launch event in New York:
» Okayafrica:

» Getty Images – Premiere Photos:

» WireIMAGE- Premiere Photos:



Funkhaus Europa

The radio broadcaster Funkhaus Europa did pay special attention to Music Freedom Day during its program throughout the day. Interviews with the pianist from Jarmouk, Aehman Ahmad, and Turkish-Kurdish Singer/Songwriter Ferhat Tunc was at the core of Music Freedom Day in Funkhaus Europa’s show Dschungelfieber. They represent the value and potential of music in hard times. Two of their own kind, dedicated to humanity and culture on an extraordinary level of exposure and braveness.

» More information here: Funkhaus Europa

Jülich – near Cologne

Kultur ohne Grenzen (Culture without Borders) – a German organisation which supports artists in exile did a Music Freedom Day event on 20 March 2016 in Jülich near Cologne.

At the cultural centre Kulturbahnhof the following musicians performed:

  • Hossam Shaker (Qanun) and his partner Sven von Samson (perc.) “Ra7halla“
  • Javid  Pajazdan (Ney-anban) & Syavash Rastani (Perc.)  “Bandari Trance”
  • Saad Thamir (perc., voc., composition) & Hesen Kanjo (Qanun) “Duo Sidare”
  • Bassem Hawar (Djoze) with Flamenco and Jazz “Trio Zyriab”
  • Mariana Sadovska, famous Ukrainian singer

In cooperation with Kultur im Bahnhof, Jülich.

» Summary/report in German language: Music Freedom Day – So ein Konzert hat es hier noch nicht gegeben


Bakelit Multi Art Center

MFD 2016 Budapest

On 3 March 2016, at the Bakelit Multi Art Centre in Budapest, there was an event taking place in support of Music Freedom Day. As a part of the event there were concerts, dance impros and DJ sets taking place. The programme was free, but everyone who wanted to was able to buy supporter’s tickets at the venue.


• Nagyvilág! Cru
• Demény Gergely
• Flow In
• Johnny K Palmer
• Song-Óra
• Dure Holiday
• Dj Waxman

More information about the event:
» Bakelit Multi Art Centre official web page
» Official Facebook event


music freedom day italy

Music Freedom Day Italy

On 5 March 2016, a music, poetry and arts festival took place in Bologna. It was organised by Associazione Culturale il Mostro, Associazione Culturale Bo Ground, Hibrido Radio and Laboratorio Sociale Afrobeat.


» For more information, visit: and the Facebook-event

Radio Città del Capo

On Radio Città del Capo on 29 February 2016 at 8pm to 9pm CET Mauro Cicchetti of Balangandà radio show interviewed Cinzia Martelli of Hibrido Association, Serenella Gatti Linares of Bo Ground association and Reda Zine of Freemuse about Music Freedom Day and the live performances that was dedicated to Music Freedom Day during Saturday 5 March 2016 in Bologna.



Rasa Utrecht, Amsterdam

On Sunday 21 February 2016, the public broadcast television programme VPRO/Vrije Geluiden advocated for Music Freedom Day through a special item on the Ensemble Qasyon, mainly comprised by the two (minor) sisters Jawa & Shaza Manla from Syria playing ud, vox and qanun respectively. All this as a call to attend World Music Forum NL’s monthly World Blend Cafe to be celebrated on 2 March 2016 at Rasa Utrecht and fully dedicated to the Freemuse goals.

The eveningpresented a panel discussion between Mrs Laura Hassler, director of Musicians Without Borders,
Mr Roelof Wittink, director of the Catching Cultures Orchestra and Emiel Barendsen, former director of Tropentheater Amsterdam and president of the Advisory Council World Music

Publicist and presenter Mr Stan Rijven hosted the event and of course the Syrian sisters Jawa & Shaza Manla accompanied this time by the Ornina Ensemble performed for a live audience.

» More information on and





The Harstad Conference on Freedom of Artistic Expression
The Harstad Music Freedom Night
2-3 March 2016

Presented by SafeMUSE – Safe Music Havens Initiative – in close collaboration with the City of Harstad and Culture Troms, Troms County Council.

Partners and funders: Freemuse, Deeyah Khan – Fuuse AS, Harstad Concert Hall, Finnish Musicians Union, HIAP – Nordic Fresh Air Network, Perpetuum Mobile, NOPA – Norwegian Society of Composers and Lyricists, Norwegian Society of Composers, MFO – Norwegian Musicians Union, Samspill International Music Network, Nordic Black Theatre, SKAP – Swedish Society of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, City of Malmö – Culture Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Norway, Nordic Culture Point.

• Annual international gathering and networking event
• Celebrating freedom of artistic expression
• Inspiring safe residencies and placements of persecuted artists and artists at risk
• Showcasing the work of guest artists
• 2016 focusing on art and activism

More information at:

Music Freedom Day 2016 at Kulturkirken Jakob


Three young Iranian musicians, invisible in their home country, did perform on 3 March at Kulturkirken Jakob in Oslo with classical Iranian poetry and music. The event was an cooperation between Oslo World Music Festival and Kulturkirken jakob and the three singers performing were:

  • Ooldouz Pouri (vokal)
  • Mahsa Azimi (vokal, setar og tar)
  • Afarin Nazari (khanoon)




Cultural Journalist Forum (CJF)

In Pakistan, The Cultural Journalist Forum ( CJF) and Takhleeq Development Foundation (TDF) jointly organised an event in Peshawar, at Spring Village for Music Freedom Day, on 3 March 2016. Music Freedom Day was through this, celebrated in all KP districts as district’s coordinators had been directed to invite local singers and artists to perform.



» More information about the event here 




Association Africulturban organised an event on 5 March 2016.

MUSIC-FREEDOM-DAY-senegal 2016 (2)



Les Rutes del So

The Catalan radio journalist Albert Reguant (for the ninth year collaborating in Music Freedom Day) within the radio program Les Rutes del So (The Routes of Sound) at the radio station Radio Ona Sants Montjüic focused on Music Freedom Day in his radio program.

“For this special program we have a selection of musical artists who have been censored or have their works censored, who have been exiled, or who are, or have been, victims of the silence of the media in their respective countries.

This year the song ‘Revolution’ stands out, composed by the young singer, actress and Kurdish model HELLY LUV (Helen Abdulla), also promoter of NGOs helping the people of Kurdistan.

Beside her: The Syrian protest singer GHARIB, the Greek singer ALKISTIS PROTOPSALTI, and the icon of the Turkish protest song, SELDA BAGCAN, as a tribute to refugees who have died dramatically in the Aegean Sea.

The music of Iraq, AHMED MUKHTAR. The Israeli musician YAIR DALAL, and RIM BANNA singer Palestine, two artists that are positioned to dialogue, peace and harmony in their respective countries. The French singer FRANCIS LALANNE and songwriter young Tunisian, EMIL MATHOUTHI, as a tribute to the innocent victims of the recent cruel attacks that have occurred in these two countries.

Finally, the popular Catalan singer LLUIS LLACH, one of the many Catalan songwriters marginalized today in various public radio & tv stations in the Spanish state.”

» The program was broadcasted on Tuesday 1 March 2016.




Linnaeus University


Music and Event Management together with Linnaeus Univeristy in Kalmar, was this year a part of Music Freedom Day.

On 16 February 2016, a guest lecture with Ole Reitov from Freemuse was held in Kalmar for the students at the Linnaeus University. The theme for the lecture was what music censorship is, how Freemuse works, about Music Freedom Day and how people within the music business can work with these questions about freedom of expression and music censorship.
Mejeriet MFD


The concert venue and culture house Mejeriet in Lund, Sweden, highlighted Music Freedom Day on social media.




Picknickfestivalen, a festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, focusing on cultural diversity and community, organised a music café on 3 March 2016 to highlight Music Freedom Day and artistic freedom.

Two bands where playing: Skamvrån and Nathan Aeli.


» More information about this event


Radio AF

Radio AF is one of the biggest student radios in Sweden and on 3 March 2016 they dedicated time to Music Freedom Day on the radio, during a special radio show where censored music and artists was the focus and interviews and discussions about the subject was held.

Radio AF special MFD

» At the radio station’s web page you are able to listen to the podcast and find out more.


Re:Orient has during the years been organising concerts, performances, lectures and seminars with a focus on contemporary issues and the relations between East and West, tradition and modernity. For Music Freedom Day 2016, Re:Orient screened two movies at Klarabiografen in Stockholm on 3 March:

First, the movie ‘Beats of The Antonov” » More information

Then, the movie ‘They Will Have To Kill Us First’ » More information


Scandinavian Soul

3 March 2016, Scandinavian Soul is organising Scandinavian Soul Music Awards at Kulturhuset in Stockholm.

During this event they celebrated all the wonderful soul music from Scandinavia and also gave attention to the importance of music and the possibility we have to, through music, reflect the times we live in. Music Freedom Day and what it stands for was highlighten in the opening speach.


Sveriges Radio

Sveriges Radio – the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation – and the program P2 Världen, a radio show focusing on music from everywhere around the world, has been a part of Music Freedom Day for many years. They were a part of the day this year as well, highlighting Music Freedom Day on and around 3 March 2016 at the radio show.



The Swedish podcast Tondöv was addressing censorship and freedom of expression, sexism and rasism as a part of Music Freedom Day. They also interviewed Emelie Draper at Hårdrock Mot Rasism and Victor Berg from the band New Keepers of the Water Towers about the subject.

Tondöv podcast

You can listen to the podcast here.



In Turkey, the Museum of Crimes of Thought – – marked Music Freedom Day:

The surroundings of the (online) museum reflects the actual life in Turkey. On Musical Freedom Day, the museum had a special guest, Troubadourix from the Asterix cartoons, as usual tied tightly, with his mouth strapped, and left under a tree.


KCSC Radio
Chico, California

KCSC  is a Radio Station in association with students at the California State University in Chico. During their radio program Bitter Swedes they were a part of Music Freedom Day 2016.

The show was aired on February 29.


Film premiere: They Will Have To Kill Us First – Malian music in exile

As a part of Music Freedom Day, BBC World Wide North America released the documentary on 4 March 2016 at Village East Cinema in New York and on 1 April at Laemmle Monica Film Center in Los Angeles.

They Will Have To Kill Us First NYC

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