Freedom of Expression
A phenomenal song from a generation that speaks out

Myanmar’s Born Free is first-ever Living Freedom top song
Living Freedom Born Free

A song about breaking free from domestic violence, Born Free, earned the judges nod at the regional songwriting contest, Living Freedom. Composed by Aether, a group of young artists from Myanmar, Born Free was recognized for its authenticity – the relevance of the message given the rise of domestic abuse during the pandemic, and the heartfelt emotions expressed in the song.

“Born Free speaks to any one at any age. It has the passion. It engages people in the process of thinking – learning how turn any experience into a kind of celebration, from sadness to joy,” said Thai independent music producer Wern Ruangkit during the online gala concert on 19 February 2021 where the top song was announced.

Born Free’s music video’s opening scene includes a reenactment of domestic violence. From a deep emotion of grief, it transitions into an expression of courage, with the lyrics: Make some noise, raise your voice, let’s rejoice; and finally, a revelry. Aether, composed of Jubilee Tun, Candice Mai, and Myu Jue Thae, created the song and the music video. The three studied in the same university. They were brought together by their interest in music.

“It’s a phenomenal song. It’s from a generation that speaks out, and I hope that the song would be a call not just to just people in Myanmar, but all over the world; that the next generation wouldn’t have to face any kind of domestic violence, or be a part of it,” Ruangkit added.

Living Freedom Born Free interview
Aether's Myu Jue, Jubilee, and Candice is joined by Thai music producer Wern Ruangkit (top left) at Living Freedom's online gala concert.

Living Freedom Songwriting Contest was organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). Moritz Kleine-Brockhoff, Head of FNF Regional Office for Southeast & East Asia, announced the top song towards the end of the 53-minute online concert.

“These days in Southeast Asia, we have illiberal forces making gains, and it’s very important to stand up for individual rights, for political rights, for rights for minority. In short for freedom. All artists did that, and that’s what made it so difficult to choose,” stated Kleine-Brockhoff. “The winner is chosen for its authenticity. It is a song by young courageous young artists. Congratulations, Aether with their song, Born Free,” he revealed.

Kleine-Brockhoff and Ruangkit were among the judges. Chairman of Myanmar Performance Rights Organization, Myint Moe Aung; recipient of the Distinguished Award at Yamaha Southeast Asia Guitar Festival, Jubing Kristianto of Indonesia; the first Malaysian artist to win the International Award for Best Song at the ASEAN Song Festival, Francissca Peter; and recipient of Gawad SUDI National Music Awards by the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Noel Cabangon joined the panel of judges.

A total of 196 entries from Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, and Myanmar were submitted as entries to Living Freedom. FNF Offices in these five countries held their respective national rounds. The top artists in the local level then advanced to the regional finals.

Phoo Thakam (Thailand), with his song about the search for truth Who Said That; Vanessa S.Y.T (Malaysia), who highighted the value of diversity in her song We Are One In This Place; Vince and Gold Lim (Philippines) who shared their vision for better society in their song Lumikha Tayo Ng Mundo or Let's Create That World; and Gilbert Pohan (Indonesia) who encourages everyone to believe in his or her own potential completed the list of regional finalists.

Watch the concert here -