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Iraqi Kids growing up in the sound of explosions and sirens, find Refuge in Music

The motto of "Children's Orchestra," a summer program is “Culture fights backwardness and extremism”

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Iraqi kids playing musical instruments. Image source: VOA
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Sept 06, 2016: In Iraq and many other places in the world, children grow up to the sound of explosions and sirens too often. But in a classroom in Basra, a different sound surrounds them — music.

“Children’s Orchestra” is the brainchild of Adnan Sahi, head of the music department at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Basra. The motto of this summer program is “Culture fights backwardness and extremism.”

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“Human behavior in general, and children’s is a response to a stimulus- a reflection of their environment,” Sahi says. “What we’re trying do is keep the Iraqi child from the negative environmental effects caused by the surrounding violent tensions. We try to keep our children away from the language of violence, the language of exclusion.”

This is his work of art. He envisions the “Children’s Orchestra” as a safe haven for these children. Kids as young as five can join the program to learn a set of skills they would never pick up, if they were left to play in the streets.

Enrollment in this music school is free, but students had to buy their own instruments.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GofZbzDJvx0&feature=youtu.be

Ridha Falah says playing instruments is a unique experience for him. “I haven’t seen a piano before, only on TV,” he says, “but now we are playing with one in addition to the guitar and violin, so it’s way better than playing with toy guns and that sort of stuff.”

Instructors volunteer to work with kids because they share Sahi’s belief that music can shield children from the violence around them and provide them with a fun and positive summer experience before they go back to school.

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Basra’s “Children’s Orchestra” is not the first attempt to help kids heal and thrive through arts.Other projects included an art program in an Iraqi orphanage in Bagdad, and a ballet school in Arbeel.

Different approaches to the same end; using art to change Iraqi children’s lives, so they can change their world. (VOA)

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Grammy Nominee Raja Kumari Talks About Bollywood Music

Grammy-nominated Indian-American songwriter Raja Kumari, also a rapper, desires her music -- that she uses as a bridge between the East and West

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Raja Kumari is a very famous songwriter who writes for American singers. IANS

Grammy-nominated Indian-American songwriter Raja Kumari, also a rapper, desires her music — that she uses as a bridge between the East and West — to reach far and wide. And so, she wants to get involved in Bollywood as it has a “great impact” on the world.

The California-based artiste with roots in Andhra Pradesh has been performing in India, appearing on reality shows and also teaming up with Indian talent for songs.

American music scene is different from India’s. VOA

What else is she planning to explore in India?

“I want to use my time in India wisely and explore the opportunities and try something new. I want to do more stuff in Hindi films. It (Bollywood) has such a great impact on the entire world. The idea that something I write can reach so many more people, that’s exciting for me as a musician,” Kumari told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

The music scene in India is “completely different” from that in the US.

“In India everything is Bollywood music. It is the most popular genre. The genre that we are making (in the US) is a new thing here… the independent music

Also Read: Music lessons boost children’s memory and grades

“In America, there isn’t much opportunity for Indian singers in mainstream music. It is something that we are trying to change,” said the artiste, who was a celebrity guest in Amazon Prime Video’s Unscripted Original, “The Remix” where she collaborated with contestants Yash and Kryll to recreate Bollywood number “Ankhiyon se goli marein”.

The “City slums” hitmaker also got to fulfil her dream of visiting Himachal Pradesh, popular for its scenic beauty.

“For the show ‘Lockdown’, (singer-composer) Kailash Kher and I had to remix two songs in our style and shoot the music video. It was completely crazy. I was lucky to have a partner like Kailashji. He made it really easy for me and enjoyable. We shot in Himachal Pradesh. That was a dream of mine to go and spend time there. It was amazing,” said Kumari.

“Lockdown”, a ZEE5 project, is a series where each episode brings together a celebrated Bollywood singer with a YouTube singing sensation. Locked in one location for a day, these musicians collaborate to recreate two songs.

Kailash Kher is one of India’s most famous singers.

The musical reality show will also feature artistes like Raftaar, Shekhar Ravjiani, Gippy Grewal, Shirley Setia, Darshan Rawal, Arjun Kanungo and Jonita Gandhi.

So is this a competition show?

“We are not competing. We are just participating in the opportunity. These are collaborations that normally wouldn’t happen. Every episode is a challenge,” she said.

“The show has been shot all over India rather than just in a Mumbai studio. It’s a cool way to show the beauty of our country,” she added.

Without sharing much about the two songs that she worked on, the fan of Indian classical and fusion music said: “I sang in Sanskrit. It was my first time ever. That was a big challenge for me. So, it was awesome.”

She had previously collaborated with notable artistes like Gwen Stefani, Iggy Azalea and Fifth Harmony.

Is she writing for more American or global singers?

“I am working on my own album. I will be releasing it this summer. I have a lot of songs which I have been doing mostly for my album,” said Kumari.

But she doesn’t want to give up songwriting.

“As a songwriter, it is amazing to be able to put other people’s emotions (into a song) and to help them. But as a performer, rapper and singer, there is nothing like being on the stage and connecting with people and getting a chance to share music with the world. I couldn’t let one go for the other,” she said. IANS