This post was written by guest contributor Yasmin N. Ali.
The sounds of violin spun around an increasingly frenzied melody of sitar, tabla and the loud, confident vocals of the lead singer. He danced and spun around his band mates, all of whom were jumping to the steady beats pouring from the drummer. The result was electrifying.
That was two years ago, at one of my first concerts. That first wave of real, live music had hit me in the gut. I stayed rooted in one spot and danced at the same time. The sheer ingenuity and force that went into making something so beautiful took my breath away.
One week after that concert I did my first open mic night. Two years and two bands later, I have performed at venues across Chicago and collaborate with a musical project that promotes unity between the Muslim and Jewish populations. My music pays homage to my Pakistani American upbringing by combining influences from both countries – the melodies weave in and out of music that’s reminiscent of jazz, rock and blues. Growing up in a conservative community, this wasn’t the easiest choice to make for me, but the truer I stayed to my art, the better I became as a person and a Muslim.
To say that I’m happy with the life I chose would be an understatement. It still deadens me when I think back to a time when I had begun to believe that I had been silenced for good, and that opportunities and the world were perhaps meant for other people – not for me, not anymore. I had just filed for divorce and was dumbstruck by what had happened. It was a multitude of things that drew me from that torpor, and music was one of them. [Read more...]