Music as a tool of social change has long been established, being used cogently by artists such as Nina Simone in the African- American civil rights movement and Miriam Makeba in the Anti-Apartheid struggle.

It’s within this tradition of defiance and hope that FORWARD’s Musicians Unite To End FGM project presents:  The Power of Music: Artists Using Conversation and Music for Social Change.

The night is set to be one of the most dynamic held by FORWARD as we present sharp social commentary with a live international soundtrack.

Journalist and FORWARD Ambassador, Ade Daramy will be in conversation with acclaimed blues artist Corey Harris, Nka1 and Tunde members of Lopango Ya Banka, a hip hop and social activism group, and UK female rapper extraordinaire – Sharna Cane. NKA1 and Sharna Cane will perform.

Naomi Reid, FORWARD’s Projects and Events Manager says:

Artists have a unique power to inspire people and influence decision makers (traditional/religious leaders etc.) and parents in FGM affected communities.

We believe in the power of music to spread positive messages and make positive changes in society. Our 2018 Musicians Unite to End FGM project sees us working with male artists for a specific reason- that FGM is mainly seen as a ‘woman’s issue’ and therefore men rarely interfere and so their views on the practice are often unclear.

Through the powerful and far reaching international platform that music can give these issues, we hope to inspire action to end FGM, engage with communities affected by FGM and to raise much needed awareness amongst FGM affected communities both in the African diaspora and in countries of origin.”

Lopango ya Banka (meaning Land of the Ancestors in Lingala) have been committed to the cause of gender equality since their beginnings. Their song “Mwasi” praises the beauty and spirit of African women.

Nka1 from Lopango ya Banka says; “I am standing with FORWARD’s Musicians Unite to End FGM project to say LISTEN my brothers, my brothers the world over, in all societies, REMEMBER where you came from, remember that women are the ones working hard to progress our great continent Africa, whilst still suffering unnecessary abuses such as child marriages and FGM. If our girls are to reach their full potential these harmful practices must end! We should respect women as they deserve and lift them up not try to keep them down. We men need to stand with women not against them.”

 “When some of the reasons for the practice of FGM include increasing men’s sexual pleasure, controlling women’s sexuality, maintaining virginity and ensuring marriageability of girls, it is imperative that we hear from men on this issue and encourage more men to join us in saying no to FGM for future generations,” says Naomi Reid

Sharna Cane, who performed at our We Too youth event in 2017 is passionate about mobilising the youth to engage with social issues and involving them in many creative projects in London. Sharna is a keen supporter of the work of FORWARD in ending FGM and in uplifting and supporting young black women to achieve and reach their full potential.

Whilst many people defend FGM on the grounds of cultural preservation, headline guest Corey Harris rejects this argument:

Emperor Haile Selassie declared long ago that, “Africa awaits its creators, those at home and abroad.” While it is our obligation to pay homage to the best of our traditions, we must also have the bravery to confront practices which have been accepted as traditional but which have proven to be much to the detriment of the people. So I am honoured to take part in FORWARD’s Musicians Unite to End FGM project and join the very important fight against female genital mutilation. Let us together create a brighter future for the generations to come, one in which young girls will be free of the painful and destructive legacy that is FGM.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

You can buy tickets for The Power of Music here.

To find out about the other dates on our Musicians Unite To End FGM tour featuring Corey Harris Band click here.