Song contest gathers music artists in Southeast Asia on one stage

Living Freedom webinar

In a rare event, music artists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand gathered on one virtual stage as mentors of the Living Freedom Songwriting Contest.

Indonesian singer Reda Gaudiamo, Malaysian star Amylea, Myanmar composer Myint Moe Aung, Filipino talents Myint Moe Aung, Jungee Marcelo, and Reese Lansangan, and Thai producer Wern Ruangkit talked about Music, Lyrics, and Freedom in a webinar on 10 July 2020. They invited budding music artists in the region to join the competition.

Organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), Living Freedom Songwriting Contest will hold national rounds in five countries. Each of the five top local artists will become the country’s flag-bearer, and will perform live in Manila for the regional level, where the best artist will get to fly to Germany.

Role of music in country's history and in personal life

In the webinar discussion, Myint Moe Aung and Cabangon highlighted how music emboldened citizens to fight against dictatorship. The Philippines, whose People Power Revolution in 1986 became a model to world, rallied behind the song Bayan Ko (My Country). Myanmar’s 8888 Uprising, which followed in 1988 in protest against the military junta, had Kabar Makyay Bu (We Won’t Be Satisfied till the End of the World) as its hymn. “Music became a source of inspiration and courage, and what enlightened people to resist and topple the dictator,” said Cabangon.

Gaudiamo commented that it was also music that kept Indonesia in high spirits after the declaration of independence in 1945. “Music gave a sense of confidence that we could stand on our own feet as a nation,” remarked Gaudiamo.

For Lansangan, songs are also a celebration of individuality. She cited her composition Tenderfoot, which translated her emotions about the societal pressure she felt as a woman. “Music is always there to help us make sense of the things that we find hard to express,” pointed out Lansangan. “I just really love to write my truth, and I just want to be brave about it by putting it out there,” she added.

Asked about her favorite song, Amylea revealed that it was Eternal Flame. “My mom used to sing it to me, and it’s one of the best memories of my life even though I had no idea what the song meant back then,” she disclosed. “Music resonates. It is sincere and genuine. It touches the heart, and it’s both magical and spiritual,” shared Amylea.

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Living Freedom as the best platform for songwriters

The mentors urged aspiring singers and songwriters to join Living Freedom Songwriting Contest. As an initial advice, Ruangkit recommended not to simply follow the trend. “The key to success is to write your own story, and best way to convey it is through music. Music convinces people to believe,” explained Ruangkit.

Jungee Marcelo announced that Living Freedom Songwriting Contest will not focus on a specific music genre, but instead concentrate on the message, making it the best venue to express one’s music. He gave practical tips. "I suggest to focus on form and substance. Learn theories or how to play an instrument,” he recommended. “Do a really good demo. Judges would favor entries where they can focus on the sound and message. Be careful of transient sound that would affect your recording,” he instructed.

FNF Offices have set the following deadline of entries:
FNF Indonesia: 24 July 2020
FNF Malaysia: 24 July 2020
FNF Myanmar: 30 July 2020
FNF Philippines: 15 July 2020
FNF Thailand: 19 July 2020

Online performances are schedule in the whole month of August until September 2020.

“We tend to talk about concepts of freedom in a very academic way. Living Freedom is an effort to reach out to more people, and know what freedom actually means to them,” said Frederic Spohr, Head of FNF Thailand and Myanmar.