New Internationalist

Musical unions

In just minutes, one song can deliver a powerful message that would take a book-load of words to explain. Unquestionably, some songs move our hearts and sympathies in a way that straight facts could never achieve. But while we have experienced how sound can enrich our lives, it can also move those who create it through a healing journey to a better place. This program’s co-host - Brian Procopis from Sweet Freedom, an Australian social justice program that works through sound and song - brings music to our ears from asylum seekers who sing about their life journeys, as today’s guests talk of the realities facing refugees from the Middle East and Asia:

  • Thousands of Timorese have fled from internal violence and are yet to return to their homes and families. Timor Lèste’s First Lady, Kirsty Sword Gusmão - who fought for that country’s independence and is now wife to the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão - gives us a glimpse of the political challenges facing leaders of a new nation as she talks about one of the country’s hottest political issues.

  • From and to where are today’s refugees fleeing? Cécile Pouilly from the UNHCR - the United Nations Refugee Agency - takes us to the hotspots.
  • Blues musician Dr Steve Dillon - author of ‘Music, Meaning & Transformation’ - shares stories with Brian Procopis about music that’s made people and their communities more resilient; and explains how songs and sound helped transform a failing school into a centre of excellence.

Today we feature three CDs from the emerging record label Sweet Freedom - Scattered People, Normal Days, and Alafiah. Profits from the sales go to those asylum seekers who’ve participated. Find out more at

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From January 2007 to August 2008, New Internationalist produced a weekly audio adventure linking you up with progressive people from every corner of the globe. This is the Radio New Internationalist archive.

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