A new music video, created by Together Productions and I Speak Music and supported by the IOM and other partners, brings musicians and artists from around the world together in a collaborative project to connect people in solidarity with displaced communities.
"Put your trust in me, my friend and walk with me a while..." begin the lyrics to a new music video from the "Imagine Imagine" project created by Together Productions and "I Speak Music" with support by the UN Migration Agency International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other partners. The video premiered on September 21 on World Peace Day to show solidarity with displaced and diverse communities around the world.
"Who are those heroes who reignite the flame of hope, who fight to make us stronger, who light the way we go. I see you, and your bravery too. I see you, and I dream with you. Put your hand in mine my friend, and rest your tired eyes. Put your trust in me, my friend and walk with me a while," continue the lyrics on a backdrop of strings, operatic chorus and children singing and dancing in locations across the globe.
Host communities sing alongside groups of children on dusty mountainsides in the Middle East. Ouds, violins, violas, guitars, drums and tambourines join the chorus, as singers spin, long hair floating and tambour held high on the beach under the white cliffs of Dover, or walk through lush green fields, along train tracks or through forests.
The project was created this summer; its aim was to "use the power of music to build bridges between displaced people and host communities" around the world.
The IOM's chief of mission in the UK, Dipti Pardeshi, supported the project and said in a statement that the IOM welcomes "the commitment of this network of artists and people from all over the world who are using their talent to build a more peaceful and welcoming society for displaced and migrant communities."
Together productions describes itself as a "groundbreaking arts and social change organization based in the UK." They invited thousands of people to take part in the video and sing the words.
The composition and arrangement of the music was directed by Jim Pinchen, Raghad Haddad and Liz Ikamba with input from the I Speak Music Community Orchestra. Raghad Haddad (viola) and Liz Ikamba (vocals) both feature in the video. The film and project was also supported by Refugee Week UK, Counterpoint Arts, Musicians Without Borders, Art. 27 and World Refugee Day.
The song was written during the global lockdown this spring and summer, the authors wanted to "honor the unsung heroes of the pandemic." In total, 120 performers took part from the UK, Egypt, Syria, Iran, South Africa, El Salvador, Mexico, Jordan, Afghanistan, France, Gaza, the US, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Raghad Haddad comes from a small town in Syria, north of Damascus. She was granted asylum in the UK in 2017. Before that she taught in Syria and performed with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra and the National Orchestra for Arabic Music. Haddad is the artistic director of the I Speak Music Orchestra.
In 2013, Raghad Haddad and her brother set up the Sada choir for children in Syria. Her brother, a multi-instrumentalist, still leads it and he and the choir also participated in the video. The video presented a chance for the siblings to collaborate once again.
Raghad told the IOM how difficult life had been for her and her fellow Syrians when the war started. She explained how "every day I had to undertake a very unsafe journey to get to work, often coming across bombings and fighting on my way."
When she finally left Syria for the UK she "encountered the challenges of having to rebuild my life in a new country, in a new language, in a new community." Raghad had acquired safety but lost things that were dear to her, "family, friends and my career." Luckily music gave her the opportunity to rebuild some of those connections and this project has been the recent culmination of that.
'The pain of not being heard'
Raghad’s brother, Bassell Haddad, says that through his work with the Sada choir he has been working with "many homeless children, teaching them to play music and sing."
Raghad added that on moving to the UK she felt "the pain of not being heard." She says this is a common feeling for those who have been forced to leave their countries. "There is a real loss of identity that is not easy to overcome." Through music and her performances, which have included working with the musician Damon Albarn and the Liverpool Philharmonic, she has regained that sense of recognition.
Raghad believes that music helps give "voice to the voiceless and is a powerful tool to help those who experience the trauma of loss to express themselves."
'A world without borders'
Percussionist, Masoud Danyiali from Iran said he believed "music was the most powerful tool you can use to communicate." He said taking part in the project with so many global musicians had given him the sense that "we are part of the same community, and that through music we could raise our voices together."
The online nature of the project also helped emphasize the feeling that music has "no borders."
Asked what her message to people all over the world might be, Raghad Haddad says she hoped they could "imagine a world with no borders; imagine a world with no poverty and no children suffering anywhere. Imagine a world full of music, love and kindness." Her brother Bassel added that he hoped people all over the world could "unite to make such a peaceful world a reality."