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Deeyah is a singer, composer and producer. She is a versatile artist and a passionate human rights activist.
With an eclectic musical appetite and rich musical past, Deeyah bridges the boundaries of language and musical genres by bringing together her vast cultural and musical heritage and the influences of pop culture.
Deeyah was born and raised in Oslo, Norway to Muslim immigrant parents (her mother’s heritage is Afghan and her father is Pakistani). Immersed in music from an early age, Deeyah trained within the North Indian/Pakistani classical vocal tradition for more than fourteen years and had the rare privilege of being the only female ever to be trained by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and one of very few females to be trained by Ustad Sultan Khan.
In her native Norway, Deeyah has released two critically acclaimed albums under her birth name Deepika. From an early age Deeyah’s unique musical abilities have captured the attention of world renowned musicians, artists as well as legendary music industry veterans. This appreciation has given her the opportunity to collaborate with such greats as her teachers Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Ustad Sultan Khan, as well as Shaukat Hussain Khan, Jan Garbarek, David Lindley, Talvin Singh, Guy Sigsworth, Zakir Hussain, Martin Ware, Adrian Sherwood, A.R. Rehman, Rick Nowels, Billy Steinberg, Knut Reiersrud, Steven Fargnoli, Roy Eldridge, and Rob Dickens.
Although Deeyah's musical accomplishments are impressive, a dark shadow has always followed her from the very beginnings of her career. Being from a Muslim family and having chosen music as her profession Deeyah has had to dodge bullets of criticism her whole life. After years of suffering in silence, having to endure constant intimidation, physical threats and even being attacked at one of her own concerts as well as a failed abduction attempt from her school grounds, Deeyah left Norway in 1996 for the UK.
When the symptoms of the same problem she had fled from in Norway resurfaced in the UK in early 2005, Deeyah once again packed her bags and left for the safety of the United States.
Tired of running and protecting the image of conservative segments within her community, Deeyah finally made the first step towards reclaiming her life. Out of the years of anger, sadness and frustration, her most controversial song and video to date ‘What Will It Be?’ was born. It features L.A. rapper Young MayLay (the voice and model for the lead character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas).
Despite the continuous abuse and death threats, Deeyah remains defiant against prejudice and discrimination on all levels--especially towards women. “This seems to be why this amazing artist's career seems to start and stop on a dime,” says one London journalist. “The minute we get a chance to hear her brilliant tracks, the religious and political backlash seems to materialize and shadow her every move. This is truly a shame and a loss. Deeyah is one artist that is really worth watching."
Deeyah contributes more than just music to the cause of women's rights. She is a staunch supporter of ICAHK the 'International Campaign Against Honour Killings. Deeyah is also a patron of ASHRAM, a women's shelter in Birmingham, UK.
Currently Deeyah is involved in compiling a compilation album titled "Listen To The Banned" in collaboration with Freemuse featuring artists from Asia, Africa and South America. Freemuse is an independent international organization that advocates freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide.
"With this compilation album we hope to provide a bigger platform for these artists to have both their music and stories heard,” says Deeyah who is one of the executive producers on this album which is scheduled for release in 2008.
Another project very close to Deeyah's heart is a personal project she is spearheading. This project is a mixtape compilation album that will feature young up and coming female Muslim rappers and singers from the UK and the US. Having always felt disheartened and disappointed by the lack of support for Muslim female artists, she decided to start this project to encourage and back young female artists herself.
In the wake of all this activity now comes Deeyah's much anticipated album “Ataraxis”. Special guest musicians on this project are the legendary two-time Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist Bob James; fellow Grammy Award winner Andy Summers, the guitarist and composer best known for his work in The Police, and acclaimed Norwegian trumpet player and composer Nils Petter Molvaer.
The future holds yet more exciting projects, in particular Deeyah’s first international English language album to be released in 2008.
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