PHYU PHYU KYAW THEIN

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MTV EXIT Myanmar

Published: Jan 25 | Posted Under: News



On December 16th, 2012 MTV EXIT organized the first-ever open air concert in the country of Myanmar. Jason Mraz headlined this monumental event and raised his voice against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The concert and campaign had caused a buzz worldwide since being launched, especially given the headliner was the award-winning American musician and philanthropist Jason Mraz, who took the stage along with local artists. Traces of colonial history and its deep-rooted Buddhist culture make Myanmar an exotic destination _ one of the last remaining in the world. The concert not only did its part to raise awareness of human trafficking there, it was a great way to promote our Asean neighbour across the world. The Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon's iconic landmark and the most respected shrine in Myanmar, gave a markedly photogenic backdrop to the four-hour concert at the adjacent People's Park, the temple's shimmering spire making the event a mesmeric experience. Everything was perfect _ an enthusiastic crowd, top-notch sound system and a clear night sky. At the end of the night, Mraz, who showed up on the stage wearing black T-shirt with a slogan "Slavery Sucks", walked home as the first world-renowned artist to perform in Myanmar in decades. Prior to the concert, media from across the region had a 30-minute session with the superstar. Mraz walked into the room looking slightly tired, but he was in good spirits throughout the interview. Each journalist got one question only. Those who had a chance to ask their question before me focused on the issues of human trafficking, to which the singer responded wisely and genuinely about how he was honoured to be part of the campaign. I threw in a simple question, hoping to lighten the mood a bit, but his answer proved the biggest surprise of the interview. Known for writing songs about love, peace and freedom, I asked Mraz which of his songs he thought best represented the campaign. He answered that back in 2010, shortly after a visit to Ghana, he wrote a song called Rescue. "Each verse tells a different story of human being in need," said the 35-year-old singer. "The verse is about helping them to the rescue. And, that song would have never been written if I hadn't got the experiences in the field. I hoped I had a chance to play this song while I'm here, but it's not in my show tonight because I didn't get it cleared by the government." Joining Mraz on stage were pop singer Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein and rocker R Zarni. Dubbed "Myanmar's Lady Gaga", the 31-year-old songstress entertained her crowds with her hits, and later shared the stage with Mraz for the chart-topping duet Lucky. R Zarni, however, pumped up the crowd with his rock tunes and performed the live debut of Traps Of Life, a powerful song with an accompanying music video about a survivor of human trafficking struggling to reintegrate into the community. "To tell the truth, this is the very first time in our history that the People's Park has become the people's park again," said Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein, a former medical student who followed her dream to be a singe. In 2008, she was selected by MTV Exit to be a celebrity ambassador of Myanmar for its anti-human trafficking campaign. However, the singer said back in those days the issue was never spoken about. "At that time, whether human trafficking existed in Burma or not, it was like a taboo. We couldn't openly declare that. It took us for few more years, and finally today has come," she said. "It feels better now than the old days with a little openness that human trafficking really exists in Burma, and it is affecting families and the people of Burma. Last but not least, the government is trying to compensate for the old days, and trying to show that they also want to take part to fight against human trafficking." When asked about the music scene in Myanmar, Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein smiled and said there are two types of music: traditional and pop. "Most of the music here is covered from international artists. Of course, we have our own creations, but it seems that fans like those melodies more," she said, but noted the industry was on a downhill slope due to piracy. Representing Thailand was rock quartet Slot Machine who made the country proud with their remarkable act and well-prepared showmanship. Seeing Myanmar fans jumping along to the unfamiliar tunes, I am sure the group would be enthusiastically welcomed if they have the chance to return for a second gig. Concert-goers I talked to pointed out rock music is popular among the youth in Myanmar. After the concert, I browsed through Slot Machine's Facebook page, and it came as no surprise to see it flooded with comments from Myanmar fans who enjoyed their performance. Throughout the show, representatives from governmental organisations took turns to encourage the crowd to concern themselves with the problem of human trafficking in Myanmar and the region, in which the victims are mostly women and children. According to MTV Exit, there are 20 million people living in slavery around the world with Myanmar and Southeast Asia particularly affected. The night was capped off with Mraz's phenomenal hit I'm Yours, with the crowd singing along with until the end. And like other concerts around the globe, it was followed with a traffic jam. While waiting for the craze of stuck cars to die down, I walked towards the beautiful Shwedagon Pagoda and thought that like the towering golden spire, Myanmar has finally been illuminated.

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MTV EXIT Myanmar

Published: Jan 25 | Posted Under: News

On December 16th, 2012 MTV EXIT organized the first-ever open air concert in the country of Myanmar. Jason Mraz headlined this monumental event and raised his voice against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Read More