06 April 2018
Playlist: Musicians in Exile
By Daniel Brown
A Songlines playlist for Apple Music exploring the music of musicians who left their home countries for one reason or another.
The reasons for musicians hitting the high road out of their native countries are legion: fleeing political or cultural oppression and censorship; searching for the recognition they never enjoyed at home; seeking more work; a desire, nay thirst, to expand musical horizons through exchanges with the local artistic community. The results have varied from forlorn exile to a happy expansion of the musician’s creativity.
Conflicts of varying hue and intensity beset artists from apartheid South Africa, Syria, Western Sahara, Iran, Chile, Argentina, Russia, Norway, Tibet and North Korea, and we pay homage to their obdurate musical resistance. “What is this evil force within music that frightens the ones in power and makes them react so violently?” asks Dutch film-maker Arjanne Laan, who is currently working on a long documentary on the subject she hopes to release in 2017. Their destinies are complemented by dreamers seeking greater artistic riches abroad, master musicians like Richard Bona, Marcel Khalife and Bonga. Their collective expressions are born of that paradoxical pain of exile, saudade, which, ironically, has catalysed memorable compositions to the world of music.