Before The Wall: A Benefit to Support Immigrant Communities
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Shilpa Ray is, through no fault of her own, one of our unsung great artists. Having made her bones with the gothic Sturm und Drang of Beat The Devil and moving forward to the blues erosion of “…and The Happy Hookers” Shilpa Ray has been, armed only with an incomparable voice and harmonium haunted by the ghosts of dead lovers, perpetually crying in the wind, hoisting both middle fingers in the general direction of god. It’s not a life a wise man would choose. Shilpa Ray kicks against the pricks but the pricks keep coming. But, again, what can you do?
Well, that’s been the narrative until now. With Last Year’s Savage (maybe a nod to Leonard Cohen maybe a nod to Barrence Whitfield) Shilpa Ray has taken the pain and dark funk of earlier sounds and made explicit the sublimity that was always there just below the surface. The conversation has become less a break up with doors ripped from their hinges and more the last pained pillow talk before parting. The obsessions with sex, death, bodily functions, and betrayal (not necessarily in that order) remain but Shilpa has expanded the palate to convey the resignation, the simmering discontent of an artist disenfranchised and held down. This is a quieter rage than the music Shilpa Ray has made before, more plaintive and considered, even if it’s the quiet of a hand gripped tight on the axe handle. The music remains gorgeous and stirring in its directness while Shilpa herself remains, thankfully, entirely and inappropriately threatening.
Shilpa Ray has, up till this, point, yes, been an “artist’s artist.” Just about every musician in New York City, who doesn’t hate her, loves her. Nick Cave sings her praises to all with the ears to listen (he brought her along a European tour as an opener and as a backup singer in the States). Obviously there are some who will always prefer lesser versions of the Shilpa Rays of the world (as if there could be more than one), preferably with blue eyes and On Brand Waifishness, but the truth will, eventually out. Talent this big can only be kept down for so long before the sky cracks and we all drown in the blood of angels. Either way, this is Shilpa Ray’s year.
The Kominas are a situationalist punk band, a la Sex Pistols, modeling themselves after punk bands in 1977 who made careers out of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Much like the Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK or God Save the Queen, The Kominas wrote songs like “Sharia Law in the USA” or “No one’s gonna honor kill my baby but me.”
The band launched their latest album “Stereotype” to much critical acclaim in 2015, and premiered a thought-provoking music video tackling xenophobia for the single “See Something, Say Something” in conjunction with NPR Music. They also reworked a classic Pakistani burlesque tune by Noor Jehan into the theme song for the upcoming documentary Zunn: Showgirls of Pakistan.
The Kominas kicked off 2016 by being thrown out of a Donald Trump Rally. They are set to record a new album, launch several videos, and are looking to tour heavily throughout this year.
Sapna NYC transforms the lives of South Asian immigrant women by improving physical and mental health, expanding economic opportunities and building a collective voice for change.
Women for Afghan Women
Women for Afghan Women is a grassroots, human rights organization dedicated to securing and protecting the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls in Afghanistan and New York, particularly their rights to develop their individual potential, to self-determination, and to be represented in all areas of life: political, social, cultural and economic.