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Shishani advocates for women’s rights

Renowned singer song-writer Shishani Vranckx, simply known in the musical spheres as Shishani has pulled up her sleeves in effort to emancipate women and advocate for their rights.

During an interview after the release of her latest studio album titled Miss Catharsis, the Netherlands-based musician says the work that she has been doing over the last five years has been focused on women’s stores, visibility and power.

“With Miss Catharsis, I focus on women; especially women of colour and it highlights the importance of representation of women’s perspective.”

“My shows honour the voices of women who have been silenced throughout centuries whether we are dealing with racism, sexism, the colonial history, discrimination on the basis of someone’s gender identity as well as the exclusion and violence against LGBTIQ+ persons.”

“With the show “Sisterhood” I connect the colonial heritage of Indonesia, the Netherlands and Namibia by focusing on shared histories even though the context of each country is different, in the end, it’s all linked.”

“That way, I try to find connections beyond nationalities amongst female performers to learn from each other and support each other. It has been a very empowering experience.” 

“This year, I have released my studio album with Shakuar, a duo with vocalist Karima el Fillali who has Moroccan-Dutch roots. So the work I’m putting out, the performances I’m creating all focus on women – to highlight these strong, inspiring artists,” Shishani said.

She added that stereotypes which target women are harmful as they undermine the dignity and value of human beings.

“It is already painful enough for women who wish to fall pregnant but cannot, so I can’t imagine why people would continue to stigmatize a woman already struggling.”

“I believe a lot has to do with the pressure on women throughout societies to become mothers in order to be seen as “fully woman” – which makes the issue of infertility even harder to handle.”

 “I believe women are not only defined by motherhood. In any case, it should be a woman’s choice to become a mother. And I hope that by understanding that our bodies are all different, we can empathize with those that are infertile instead of targeting them.”

“Empathy, trying to understand each other’s situation, is absolutely essential when dealing with each other as human beings. I truly hope that rather than wanting to break each other down, we can grow towards wanting to understand and support each other,” she said.

Furthermore, the “Minority” hit-maker explained why she titled her latest studio album Miss Catharsis.

“The journey of creating this record has everything to do with battles we face as women from all walks of life, queer, transsexual and people of colour as well as celebrating their strength, beauty and victories.”

“The word ‘Catharsis’ stands for a process of purification. With this record, I wanted to deal with the subjects of belonging, hope, emancipation and liberating yourself. That’s why it is called Miss Catharsis,” she explained.

The album was digitally released in February on all streaming platforms and was followed by concerts in March in the Netherlands.

To complete this body of work, she worked together with several musicians and producers.

“The music and lyrics are my work and together with producer Jurriaan Sielcken we crafted the record. He is truly amazing when it comes to sound and arrangements.”

“In the recording process, I featured musicians Chelsea Laverne, Olivia Davina, Sharon Harman, Chrissie Quast and Ceciel Moyano. Jaimie van Hek is our new bass player and has played a huge role for the band.”

The album cover of Shishani ’s Miss Catharsis. Photo Contributed

“A lot of my work has a social message so I’ve been quite active in dealing with the colonial history of Europe and social challenges of our time and creating awareness around those matters as well as about Namibia through the work I do,” she said.

Known for her recognizable afro hairstyle, the guitar wizard now sports a new, shorter hairstyle which she says: “our outsides reflect our insides and it felt like it was time for change”, when asked about it.

Having relocated to Europe a few years ago, Shishani has not slowed down, achieving numerous accolades.

Together with Namibian Tales, a group she formed with percussionist and producer Sjahin During, they won Best World Music Production for their albums in 2016 and 2017.

She released a jazz album with Bodek Janke in 2018 as well as an orchestral album with Shakuar in 2021.

In 2020, the songbird was nominated for an important art prize in Amsterdam.


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