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Vol. XI No.4 - Sunday August 5 - Saturday August 18, 2012


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Arts - Entertainment & It
 

Me N Ma Girls

The Burmese girl band with a mission

The Me N Ma Girls come from all parts of the country
and are hitting it big in Burma.

By Citra Dyah Prastuti, Rangoon, Burma
After decades of military dictatorship, Burmese girl band Me N Ma Girls is taking full advantage of saying – and singing – what they think. The five young and talented women have hit the international musical scene not just singing and dancing, but pushing social and political boundaries too.

Me N Ma says it wants to break new ground in Burma’s music scene.
“Before our country’s President changed, we could only write love songs and sad songs,” explains band member Hitke Hitke.

“Now the laws have changed and we can write songs about politics. The mind and the eyes are open. We can write and we say everything we like. We have freedom of speech,” she says.

The band came together in 2010, when Australian dancer Nikki May decided to help form a Burmese version of the British pop group Spice Girls, and organised auditions. At the time they were known as “The Tiger Girls” and only performed cover songs.

Wanting to do produce their own material, they split with their produce last year and started up Me N Ma Girls with Nikki May as their manager. The group’s name is a play on words – in English meaning ‘me and my girls’, which also sounds like the other name for Burma, Myanmar.

Last December they realeased their first album titled “Minga Lar Par” or “Welcome” in Burmese. The band has captured international media attention with their performances, but popularity at home is still in its early stages.

“Our skin color is dark. In our country, people like white skin color and people like beautiful girls. And we’re not beautiful enough!” says Hitke laughing. “But we can sing beautifully!”

There’s obvioulsy more to these girls than singing and dancing. Hitke Hitke studied computer science while Cha Cha holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology. Ah Moon studied Russian, Wai Hnin Khaing is a chemistry graduate and Kimmy moved from Burma’s poorest Chin state to Rangoon to study mathematics. All five band members are from different parts of the country and follow different religions. Ah Moon comes from Kachin state, but she says she wants to appeal to a broad audience.

“When I write, I feel like all the other girls in the world. When I write a political song, I feel like the rest of people in Myanmar, not like a Kachin girl,” she says.

Their new song is called ‘Come Back Home’ – it’s a call to millions of Burmese who fled to escape military repression and poverty. Ah Moon co-wrote the song.

“Right now there’s freedom of speech and we dared to write about this freely... We’re just saying that people from abroad should come back home, where their relatives are, and where the places are needing them,” she says.

Ah Moon already has another song ready for their next album. Called ‘War’, it criticizes the civil conflict still going on in her home state Kachin.

At the forefront of controversial political issues, it hasn’t been easy for the band members, all in their early twenties, to convince their families they can survive just by performing music. But Cha Cha says she decided to follow what she loved doing.

“At first my parents did not allow me to have this artist life. My father wants me to become a business woman, but I’m not interested. I love singing and dancing, so that’s why I choose my way. My dream comes true.. nearly. Now I want to go to Hollywood with this girlband.”

And it might no longer just a dream. The band has been offered the chance to record its next album in Los Angeles.

“The international media are focusing on us,” confirms Ah Moon. “As Nikki our manager says, ‘they believe in you and you have to try hard. If you’re not successful, what else? The worst thing that could happen is that we go America to record and come back. You will not lose anything.’”

Me N Ma might be making it big, but off stage they’re just the girls next door. Cha Cha still has a curfew from her parents to be home before 7 p.m at night, while Ah Moon’s father is a Christian priest and her mother, Lu Nan, a housewife.

“There are people who don’t approve of my daughter being a performer, like some of the people from the church, but my husband, as a reverend, doesn’t feel the same way,” says Lu Nan.

“We understand Ah Moon’s passion to dance and sing. We don’t want to be narrow in our attitudes, we want to support her.”

This article was first broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current affairs radio program produced by Indonesia’s independent radio news agency KBR68H and broadcast in local languages in 10 countries across Asia. It is published in conjunction with the Faculty of Mass Communications, Chiang Mai University. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at www.asiacalling.org.
 


A Unique Musical Experience In Chiang Mai

Screenings of concerts of all 9 Beethoven symphonies will be shown free and open to the public by invitation only presented for the enjoyment of all by Dr. Howard Graves in association with J-P of “The Friends of Music Making in Chiangmai”

The concerts will feature such distinguished conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado, Herbert von Karajan and Carlos Kleiber conducting various orchestras including The Concertgebouw and Berlin Philharmonic.

The opening seminar will be held on Wednesday, September 19 at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by fortnightly screenings and an optional extra Fidelio on one of the regular Tuesday Opera Nights.

The opening seminar will start with a short talk on Beethoven in Bonn. His early teacher – Christian Gottlob Neefe – assistant organist to Neefe at the Court Organ; visited Vienna in March 1787 but was forced to return 2 weeks later as his mother was seriously ill and she died shortly after; his father developed severe alcoholism and Beethoven took charge of his two younger brothers staying in Bonn where he wrote his first piano concerto in 1788. It is deeply Mozartian in style.

Interested parties can contact the Friends of Music Making in Chiang Mai to reserve seats. [email protected]


CMU Thesis projects

The Chiang Mai University College of Fine Arts students presented their thesis works at the CMU Art Center. Undergraduate and graduate students put their unique and thought provoking creations on display at the Art Center in a well attended exhibition that saw students, members of the public and faculty attend. The CMU Art Center shows the works of graduating students every semester. Photo by LiLi Tan.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Me N Ma Girls

A Unique Musical Experience In Chiang Mai

CMU Thesis projects
 

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