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Thao and Mirah Wield Words

Speak out sisters

Back in 2010, Portland songwriter Mirah and Thao Nguyen (of Thao With the Get Down Stay Down) performed together at the Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco, and unleashed a performance so good that they decided to make more music together. The record album product of this collaboration, Thao and Mirah, came out April 26, co-produced by tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus (fresh from making the best album of 2011, w h o k i l l). Thao and Mirah also work with Air Traffic Control, an organization that helps musicians engage in social activism.

Thao says, "If musicians in general feel compelled to become better social activists, their potential influence and creativity could alter the way people see things, and open and change minds in ways no campaign or petition or lobbying could."

Mirah opines: "Actually, what's important is for everyone to become 'better,' or we could just say 'more' proactive social activists. Nobody lives in this world alone, and we all have just as much capacity to do harm as to do good, so I see it as crucial that people develop themselves as instruments of positive change in order to combat the drag of acquiescence, which sometimes arises. Fela Kuti put it best when he said, 'Music is a weapon of the future/Music is the weapon of the progressives/Music is the weapon of the givers of life.' "

On the fan's responsibility upon receiving the message of advocacy, Mirah says, "To ask themselves how they see themselves as fitting into that issue, to become curious, to ask questions of themselves and then spiral outward. Thao and I have chosen to utilize the opportunity of attention being given to this album as a platform from which to address issues of domestic violence and child sexual abuse. And so, hearing that, you can start by asking yourself what your relationship is with these issues, have they affected you, your family, your community? When you acquaint yourself with the statistics of how prevalent domestic violence and child sexual abuse is, you recognize that if you are a survivor of abuse, you are not at all alone, and if you have been a bystander you are not alone, and if you have been an abuser you are not alone. Just this simple act of recognition can be a key to begin unlocking the cycle of generational harm that these abuses thrive on."

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