Name: Aisha Badru
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Current release: Aisha Badru's new single "Rebirth" is out now. It follows in the footsteps of “The Way Back Home” (listen here), for which she teamed up with One Tree Planted who are planting a tree for every pre-save of the new single.
Recommendations: Get connected to your local experts, advocates, and activists. There are likely people out there who have been fighting for the same causes that you feel passionately about. Ask around about how you can get involved. And remember that the work you do doesn't have to be a huge national or global campaign. I’m all for making a difference in your own community. In the age of social media, I feel that there’s this false idea that if you want to make a difference in the world you have to reach a million people. Not true at all. Start local. Start with you.
If you enjoyed this interview with Aisha Badru, visit her official website to find out more about her work. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook and Soundcloud.
When starting out, many artists want to "change the world" with their work. What was this like for you? What were some of your early ambitions and in which way were you able to realise them?
When I first started off, I didn’t have this grand idea that I was going to go out and change the world with my art. I was experiencing depression back in 2016 and that’s when I put my first set of songs online .
Not only did the act of telling my story begin my healing journey, but I also discovered that my story was helping others to heal as well. It began to become evident that “if you want to change the world, change yourself”.
Your songs explore topics of healing the mind and body. What are some of your personal motivations for this? How, from your perspective, can music be of help in this regard?
My own sadness and sharing it through lyrics helped me realize that many people are going through similar challenges. Music has the potential to help listeners feel seen and understood. It fosters a sense of community and camaraderie. The content of the music can have a healing effect as well, which is why you may observe that my songs tend to have an uplifting message strung throughout them.
In which way, do you feel, do these personal explorations overlap with your bigger goals of exploring how to heal the planet? Do you feel as though change on an individual level can still bring about change on a higher level?
I used to wonder why it seemed like no one cared about the deteriorating planet, but then I started noticing how much trauma, pain, depression, societal limitations, limiting beliefs, and even illnesses that people were walking around with. I believe most of us want to live in a better, healthier world, but it's difficult to find energy when we are not healthy ourselves.
Speaking from experience ... the better I began to feel emotionally, the more energy and mental space I had to invest in solving issues outside of myself. A major component of healing the planet starts with individuals finding some level of healing first within themselves. So, yes, I believe that change on an individual level can bring about change on a larger scale.
You're currently working with One Tree Planted. How did that collaboration come about?
I have been spending a lot of my time understanding the connection between human health and the environment. In doing so, I've become interested in the conservation and restoration of the earth's ecosystems. I wanted to find an organization who is doing this type of work and One Tree Planted seemed like the perfect organization to support.
What, exactly, is it they do?
One Tree Planted's reforestation projects rebuild forests after natural disasters and deforestation. They work with local conservationists and partners, and stay closely engaged to monitor progress. The first round of pre-save plantings were done in British Columbia which is where my record label is located. In the future, we are hoping to direct the pre-save funds to a project here in Florida which is where I live.
How did the pre-save for the campaign go?
So far we have planted 106 trees!
Does your artistic work in any way feed into your activism - and vice versa?
Definitely. You’ll hear in songs of mine like ‘Soil’s Daughter’ that I speak directly to some of the issues we’re facing today. I wouldn’t necessarily call it activism ... I'm just singing the truth of what I see.
I thought it was very interesting that some of your messages on Facebook were very outspoken, but your music is pure and simply beautiful – which goes against the idea that music that wants change needs to be loud and aggressive. What are your thoughts on this and the potential of 'quiet art' for moving listeners to action?
My music is all about connecting on an emotional level. The emotional suffering we experience as a human collective is often buried underneath scientific facts about all the things we're doing wrong. When wanting to reach people, relatability is sometimes more important than intellect and reason.
There is something very powerful about connecting with people on an emotional level ... something spiritual. I believe the state of a person's spirit is what drives their actions.
Do you feel it important that artists become more engaged with the political/ecological/social challenges facing us? If so, what are the best ways to do this?
Every person, artist or not, has an opportunity to make a positive difference in the world, whether it be by making small personal changes, being kind to someone, or rallying people for a particular cause. From my perspective, the best way to start is by observing what impacts your life directly. What gets your fire going?
For me, it started when both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer. Witnessing the disparities of health within minority communities in the United States really jump started my interest in human health and our disconnection from the earth.