Miriam Tamar is a singer who manages to create empowering and expansive music that journeys through the intense colours and rhythms of world culture.
Here we have caught up with Tamar to speak exclusively about her latest hit release ‘Who We‘, her inspirations, charity work, dream collaborations and so much more.
What is the major inspiration behind your new single ‘ Who We’?
I think so many of us struggle with this feeling of being trapped- trapped inside a set of circumstances, or the constraints of our beliefs or society that we may be born into and feel is beyond our control. I was living and working abroad in Uganda, and saw people from all kinds of backgrounds, even some of the most heartbreaking and complex situations, find different ways to empower themselves and bring meaning to their own lives. That’s freedom to me. ‘Who We’ is a rallying call to draw on inner strength and courage throughout that quest for freedom .
Your EP ‘Firedance‘ was released last month, how would you describe the sound of the record?
‘Firedance’ is a world-beat fusion album that blends African and global rhythms with dance, electronic, R&B and folk sounds. While I was in Uganda, I collaborated with an amazing traditional percussion ensemble, so I wanted to recreate some of that infectious sound. My intent is to take listeners with me on a lyrical and sonic journey, beyond emotional and physical borders.
As well as being a musician you also have a degree in Peace and Justice Studies, how do you try and incorporate your degree into your music?
My degree covered a wide range of societal and political topics, but the coursework around social movements, and grassroots community building and activism, particularly in post-conflict or marginalised societies have been deeply tied to my music. Beyond the classroom, I was in the field, working in Tanzania and Uganda, where I was able to practice what I studied, and really understand the power of human connectivity, which is the driving force behind peace. My music explores themes of resiliency, empowerment, shared humanity, and self-discovery.
You have spent time in Uganda working to develop curriculum for children affected by war, what was the experience like?
It was by far the most challenging and heart-opening experience in my life so far. I worked in partnership with a US nonprofit and a team of northern Ugandan teachers to develop, customise and implement a curriculum that used conflict-resolution skills-building activities and historical case studies from the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide, to provide children ages 10-17 with communication, inter-personal and leadership skills. We were working in post-conflict northern Uganda, in rural impoverished settings. The teachers and students were incredible and inspiring- they loved the content, and were empowered by the skills, and by learning that conflict is a universal challenge, not just one that they had faced in their community. The major struggle was economical- we were trying to run a program within schools where teachers were often not even receiving their monthly government salaries, and students couldn’t afford food and pencils. Many children came from child-headed households, having lost parents to the war or disease. Getting to know each of my teachers, and many of the students, and learn about each of their lives and stories, and to share experiences together and find ways to connect and laugh- that really deepened my soul.
Will you be visiting any other countries to do charity work this year?
I certainly hope so! I plan to spend a couple months in Uganda this fall, and hope to work on some public health campaigns, as I have in the past. I’m always looking into opportunities to partner locally and internationally with social justice cause
How much do you think music can make an impact on the world?
I already talked about the power of human connectivity, and to me, music is a vehicle for this connection. It’s beyond words- it touches our souls and brings us joy. Whether a song speaks to an individual person sitting alone, feeling down and isolated, and makes them feel like they have a friend, or in a room full of people who come from different backgrounds and can’t find conversation, but a groovy beat can get them all up dancing together- music heals and unites.
If you could collaborate with any artist/band who would you choose?
Wow! How can I choose? It would be a total dream to collaborate with Youssou N’dour, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, or Black Coffee. Just putting it out there in the universe!
Do you think artists such as yourself can help shape views of the public through your music?
I know that we all live within the reality of what we know or have experienced. Bringing new sounds or thoughtful lyrics to a listener can broaden their experience, and has to potential to widen their perspective, and even open their mind or their heart. I think there’s a lot to gain just from being exposed to something that’s different, even if we don’t understand it or like it. Exposure opens us and promotes compassion- and I think we can all agree the world needs more compassion.
What topics do you hope to write about in the future?
I think I’ll always write about personal growth, resilience and empowerment, as I’m constantly engaging and pushing myself on those topics. My partner is Ugandan, so I have some songs in the works that explore intercultural/interracial love, and the immigrant experience in the US, especially in today’s climate. I’d love to write more about some stories from my time abroad, and also write songs based on traditional African mythologies and folktales.
What is your goal for the future?
My goal is to continue to evolve as an individual and an artist, constantly writing and collaborating. I want to create music that promotes cultural exchange and appreciation, and that can lend itself to the education sector as well. I also hope to hit the road soon- I’d love to perform anywhere there are people who love music!
Make sure you follow Miriam on Twitter @miriam_tamar to keep up to date with all her latest music news!
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