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Women’s Voices

Som Kanika / Khmer Times Share:

American music group Harpeth Rising teamed up with local female artists for an awe-inspiring concert ahead of International Women’s Day celebrations. Som Kanika was at the all-female music event as the performers served up inspiration and courage.

Music binds people and culture – no matter how different and contrasting they may be. Music bridges gaps, brings joy, promotes peace and strengthens souls.

A grand and meaningful music event at the Institute of Foreign Languages last Saturday is a proof to the magic music has over us.

American music group Harpeth Rising and Cambodia’s original artists combined forces in giving their large audience a concert to remember.

Harpeth Rising – composed of violinist and songwriter Jordana Greenberg, cellist Maria Di Meglio and banjo player Michelle Younger – was on a weeklong tour in Cambodia to bring the harmony of music in building stronger cultural ties with the Kingdom of Wonder, and to empower women ahead of the International Women’s Day celebrations next week.

The three classically trained musicians played their original and captivating music with our very own Cambodian talents who also proved their gifts in music and live performance.

Harpeth Rising, during one of their song numbers, told the overjoyed audience that they strongly believe that musical outreach is a wonderful tool to help women as they continue their fight for gender equality in Cambodia. To them, music has the power to gather people together and is a vehicle for women to express themselves and reveal their real selves.

“Not all of the songs we’ve written are about women. But they are all encouraging and inspiring for all women out there. We also wrote music about women who protested for their rights and fought for their own identities,” the trio said.

Among the six songs that the trio performed in front of their Cambodian crowd, ‘The Sparrow’ truly made a mark. The song, first released in 2013, describes a lot about women’s hardships and fights in a cruel world.

and sing ye praises // mark your souls // turn your ship around // your gods have all forsaken you and left you on your own // take my hand // you shall not be alone

Multi-talented local artists such as Sam Rocker, Sophea Chamroeun, Chive Chheng Heang and Seng Pich Sreypov also sang their hearts out as they represented Khmer women in the most artistic ways.

American trio Harpeth Rising use their talents to help Cambodia fight for gender equality. Photo: US Embassy

Sam Rocker, a tomboy singer, dedicated ‘Hold Me’ and ‘For You’ to all women who need inspiration and courage to overcome the atrocities of life.

“Hold Me is a song that portrays self-belief that people should hold on to themselves no matter how fragile they are inside. In every path we walk, there’s always fear and failure but I want people to remember that no matter what happens, at least, you hold on to yourself” she said.

Sreypov, one of the Cambodian original artists known for her singing and songwriting flairs, shared an inspiring message through her single, ‘New Person’. Sreypov composed the special song for women who are struggling to find their own space. Her song sends out a strong message for women’s need to be powerful and bold in dealing with inequalities and injustices thrown against them.

“This song was written to inspire women to get up and begin the journey of life again,” said Sreypov.

Harpeth Rising’s tour in the country was part of the American Music Abroad programme sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Association of American Voices. Non-governmental organisation Cambodian Living Arts also assisted in making the tour a total success.

Before the concert at IFL, the three young female members of Harpeth Rising conducted workshops with the Secondary School of Fine Arts, Harpswell Foundation, Epic Arts and Krousar Thmey Foundation. They also performed in Siem Reap and Kampot.

Each member of the group shared not just their unbelievable talents, but also their stories in pushing forth women leadership and empowerment through the beauty of melodies.

Harpeth Rising has already released two albums – ‘Shifted’ and ‘Against All Tides’ – and has toured full-time for six years performing across United States, Europe, Australia, UK and now Cambodia.


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