Music has always been a part of my life. I literally would not exist without it. My parents, who are high-school sweethearts, met in band class when they were fifteen. My dad played the saxophone. My mom played the clarinet. It was their love for jazz and legendary groups like Earth, Wind, & Fire, the Chi-lites, and the Jackson 5 that brought them together and shaped the life they now share. Because of that, I grew up surrounded by ballads, hymns, and old soul records. For as far back as I can remember, I've known that songs can give you hope, can feel like home, and have the power to change the world.
I was reminded of the power of music while speaking with Somali sisters Iman and Siham Hashi. Originally from Mogadishu, Iman and Siham relocated with their family as refugees to Canada in 1991 to escape the war that engulfed their country. Once there, their passion for music flourished, which led to landing a contract with Universal Motown, making them the first Somali artists to sign a deal with a major label in the United States.
I spoke with Faarrow a few weeks ago about their experience as refugees, their love for the Fugees, and why changing the world is inseparable from their journey as artists.
Dianca Potts: What was your childhood like? What role did music play in your life while you were growing up?
Iman Hashi: We were born in Somalia but grew up in Toronto, Canada. When we were younger a war broke out in our country, and we came to Canada as refugees, so our parents were very adamant about us sticking to our culture. If there was music in the house, it was Somali music, and we learned to sing by listening to it. Our parents, particularly our dad, were a bit strict in the beginning, and we weren't really allowed to listen to English music, but our mom was always playing Michael Jackson or Lionel Richie or something. Middle school was when we really got passionate about music and felt like that was something that we really wanted to do.
Siham Hashi: One of our favorite artists is Saado Ali Warsame, and we just listened to her music all the time as kids. She was assassinated a couple of years ago in Somalia, but she was the person that we listened to growing up, and through her music we learned to sing. She was very "girl power" and a trailblazer for Somali women in music. In America she wasn't very well known, but she was a person that we really loved.
DP: When did you realize that you wanted to collaborate together musically?
IH: In middle school we became really obsessed with the Spice Girls and the Fugees. That's something that we were so drawn to. Even at an early age, we knew what kind of music we wanted to make.
SH: Through middle school and high school, we loved music, but we didn't think that it was an actual option for us. It was more like This is our dream, but we could never do it because of where we come from. I'm a year and a half older than Iman, and once I graduated from high school, I was like,You know what, I have to make a conscious decision . If this is my passion I have to pursue it full throttle and not really care what anyone thinks. Iman was still in high school then and she felt like she couldn't take a leap like I did, so that's when we secretly formed our group [laughs].