“When I started writing songs for ‘Eternally Displaced’ – my current musical project, I wanted to be able to articulate how universal the emotions and experiences of an immigrant and refugee experience were. I wanted to empathise and really feel. Generational trauma is real. My grandparents, from both sides were refugees, fleeing violence in Punjab during the Partition of India in 1947. They moved across the border (of what is now Pakistan) to find ‘home’. Leaving everything behind. My father was born a decade later and came to London in the 1960s as a young child. And I was born in Tottenham (woop!) in 1992.”
Amrit Kaur Lohia, is a singer-songwriter, Sarangi player and vocalist in genres of Punjabi folk, R&B and soul. Born into a Sikh family in Tottenham, her music weaves stories between migration, identity and empowerment.
“Borders are for maps, not music. My music is about humanising my own experiences which includes being a woman of colour, a member of a diaspora, a child of immigrants. But also, growing up in working class north London in a diverse Ghanaian, Nigerian, Greek, Turkish, South Asian community, sharing histories, food, music and culture. Music allows me and by extension, allows my audiences to empathise.”
“Since releasing ‘Bloodline’ I have heard many interpretations and stories people have heard in the song. Some relate it to loss of family, some a dual identity, some generational trauma and some don’t get it at all and think it’s a great running track (including my mum) and that it totally fine by me! We are all trying to find ‘belonging’. But we are all in the same boat. Floating”
“I think that trying to find ‘belonging’ in this life, believing that ‘life is elsewhere’, is futile. Human history shows we are a people that keep moving, evolving, growing. Our sense of belonging does not come from borders painted on a map. It comes from our belief system. Culture, is right here within us. And when we root ourselves within ourselves, a community of people that vibrates that same frequency begins to present itself to us. And you definitely can’t define that sound by race, ethnicity, gender…”
As a beneficiary of grassroots youth organisations herself, Amrit has become an experienced youth worker, mentoring youth offenders, children in foster care and refugee children. She is currently a Global Youth Ambassador for ‘A World at School’. Amrit is the founder of ‘humanised.org’, a social enterprise dedicated to humanising history and social issues through the Arts with workshops taking place across USA, Europe and India. Her notable performances include Glastonbury Festival, UN General Assembly for Unicef and Jaipur Literature Festival in India. Through her own work she has started from the belief that music plays an important role in combatting the prejudices around migration.
Do you have any words of advice to other women, wanting to do what they believe in?
“Realise your power. There are only two things that are certain – you were born into this world…and you will leave this world. What are you going to do in between? Worry about uncertainty, be afraid of failing? If you don’t do it – who the hell will? Know that you have a tribe of sisters, feeling the same feelings. We’re all here. In the same boat. Floating. Let’s float with joy.”
There are so many incredible kick-ass women in the world, stepping up, speaking out and inspiring others with the work they do. Many who are visible, and many who are not. With this project we want to highlight grassroots female role models. So we want to hear from you! Who are the women in your life who makes you think, ‘yeah thats possible’! Women who have started businesses, projects, are fighting for a cause, are making their voices heard. Send us a photo and a small story celebrating the role model in your life to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will turn this into an illustrated piece!
This series is in collaboration with Nomadways.