Skip to content

12 banned songs

…from 12 different countries. This is the concept of my new album Unsongs, a collection of songs that have, at one stage, been banned, censored or silenced. The attempts to suppress them were as mild as an airplay ban and as brutal as murder.

The idea was when I learned about the Israeli officer Eli Geva, who refused to lead his forces into Beirut during the Lebanon war in 1982. The song about Eli Geva, sung by the famous Norwegian songstress Birgitte Grimstad, had never been released due to being ‘too provocative at the time’.

It was a beautiful and powerful song, and I was amazed to discover that one short song could convey so much history – and still be unheard. Fired with inspiration, I started looking for similar stories, banned and silenced songs from around the world, in hope that I might find more stories that deserved to be heard.

The result of this process was Unsongs. The new album contains translated and reworked songs from countries as different as Russia, Mexico, Palestine and Vietnam, but also songs from my parts of the world, like Norway and England. Many of the writers who penned the songs are still imprisoned or exiled. Some were killed, like the Chilean folk legend Víctor Jara and the Algerian rebel singer Lounès Matoub.

Unsongs will be released in 2016.