Canadian ‘Banned’ musicians take the stage at SXSW

Faarrow and Emmanuel Jal, two Canadian acts with refugee roots, joined the “Contrabanned” concert in Austin on Friday, a joyful protest of Donald Trump’s travel ban.


AUSTIN, TEXAS—Music knows no borders, and all the travel bans in the world can’t do anything about it.

That was the message sent the way of the Trump administration at the South by Southwest festival on Friday evening, as artists representing the six nations targeted by a United States travel ban gathered in Austin for a defiantly joyous protest concert dubbed “ContraBanned: #MusicUnites @ SXSW.”

The musicians on hand — including Somali-Canadian sister act Faarrow and Toronto rapper Emmanuel Jal, representing South Sudan — came from worlds as varied as hip-hop, jazz, R&B and classical, but that was kind of the point. They could all easily come together onstage in the spirit of peace and unity, which a world separated by pointless political and religious borders would do well to emulate.

Further driving home ContraBanned’s point about the foolishness of Donald Trump’s attempted travel ban, the evening’s scheduled closing act, Iranian-born U.K. DJ Ash Koosha, was conspicuously absent because he was denied entry into the States to attend the festival.