27 year old Deeyah is a beautiful, intelligent and immensely talented international artist with true star appeal. Deeyah was born and raised in Oslo by parents who were amongst the first generation of Muslim Asians to immigrate to Norway (her mother’s heritage is Afghani/Persian and her father’s is Pakistani), where she released two successful albums while still in her teens.
Dubbed "The Muslim Madonna" by the UK broadsheet The Mail on Sunday, Deeyah has been dodging bullets of criticism her whole life. "Because of her bold stance on Muslim women's rights, Deeyah has received more death threats than 50 Cent", says one UK journalist. "Despite the continuous abuse and death threats, Deeyah remains defiant against prejudice and discrimination on all levels–especially towards women. This seems to be why this amazing artist's career seems to start and stop on a dime. The minute we get a chance to hear her brillianttracks, the religious and political backlash seems to materialize and shadow her every move. This is truly a shame and a loss. Deeyah is one artist that is really worth watching."
Born and raised in Norway, of Asian descent Deeyah now divides her time between the UK and the US where she has been working with US producers in Atlanta including Darin Prindle. “Living in Scandinavia I grew up with pop. I adored Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince. Later on, I really got into hip-hop as well as rock. I love A Tribe Called Quest, Dre, Cypress Hill, Above the Law and Tha Alkaholiks as well as Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, Faith No More, and Alice In Chains. All these acts have a big impact on my musical taste and a great influence on my own musical expression”.
Immersed in music from an early age, Deeyah trained within the Indian classical vocal tradition for more than fourteen years and had the rare privilege of being the only female ever to be trained by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and one of very few females to be trained by Ustad Sultan Khan in classical Indian singing. In her native Norway, Deeyah has already released two critically acclaimed albums under her birth name Deepika.
Her chief collaborator on the new album is acclaimed producer Darin Prindle who has worked with Destiny's Child, TLC, Madonna, Jermaine Dupri, Boyz II Men and Usher. According to Darin, "Deeyah’s background allows Deeyah a singular perspective on music and adds another facet to her unique musical identity. She is a star in every sense of the word. She has talent, drive, beauty and most of all, intelligence which you must have in order to stay at the top once you get there." Additional musical contribution is supplied by L.A. rapper Young MayLay (the voice and model for the lead character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas), Houston based CraftBeats (Mike Jones, Paul Wall), Atlanta based producer Mixzo (Aaliyah, Ludacris, Bone Crusher, David Banner). Most recently, Producer/Mixer Phil Tan (Jermaine Dupri, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani) has joined the mix and many more collaborations are in the works. Deeyah also features on a remix of the hit Bone Crusher single, "Never Scared' which topped major UK Asian request charts.
Deeyah's first single, the double A-side "Plan of My Own"/"I Saw You" was released in the UK by Brainwash Records on January 31, 2005 and received heavy spins in clubs around the world reaching ..1 on The Box, ..5 in the UK Dance chart and ..37 in the UK top 40 chart. Deeyah's second single "What Will It Be?" is already causing a stir by boldly addressing women's rights and other socially taboo topics in the Muslim world.
It has received major support on some networks for its stance while being banned outright by other stations after they were bombarded by hate-mail and threats. The recent video salutes the bravery of people who dare to make their own choices– even at the risk of their own lives. Although the burka to bikini scene seems to stir the conservative Muslim’s blood the most, Deeyah finds that surprising. “I am amazed to find that most people seem drawn to the final scene where the burka drops and I enter the pool. I thought the pictures of honor killings would be controversial, not the bikini. The images of hangings, shootings and brutal executions seems to have been decidedly ignored by many in the South East Asian community. I guess they find skin is a bigger sin than murder.”
Deeyah contributes more than just mere music to the cause of women's rights. She is a patron of ASHRAM, a women's shelter in Birmingham, UK where she contributes her time and support to its victims.