Singled Out: Jamil Kassam's Rise Now

Jamil Kassam

Today pop singer-songwriter Jamil Kassam tells us about his latest single "Rise Now". Here is the story:

"Rise Now" is a song about coming out in all senses of the term. It's a song about affirming your own truth no matter how hard it is and no matter how afraid you are.

I started writing "Rise Now" when I was at Berklee College of Music. I was going through a lot of changes in my life. I was lost and disoriented. I was trying to define my sound and figure out who I wanted to be as an artist. People were constantly having an opinion about what my music should have or shouldn't have been. I remember feeling like an outsider because my music didn't fit in any genre. People were trying to lock me in a box and put a label on it. You'd think that in an artistic environment, there would be some sort of open-mindedness about being different. But I realized that like anywhere else, people just want you to fit and belong to one category.

As part of an assignment for a class there, I was asked to write a song about someone's story. I had a close friend struggling with coming out as a gay man. Because it's a subject that really resonates with me, I decided to write about his struggle. That's when it hit me. I was also going through the same process of coming out: I was trying to come forward as artist and own my music. I realized I was scared of people's reactions and couldn't say it out loud. Having been out and proud for seven years now, it never occurred to me I'd have to go through it again in another context. I finished the song for that assignment and kept that idea in mind.

Later when I decided to rework the song, I looked at the bigger picture. The song started to resonate on so many other levels, especially when I saw how people were reacting to it - identifying themselves, their own story and their personal struggle to the song. I decided to make it more universal so anyone could relate. Whether it was about race, gender, orientation, being bullied or just an internal conflict, I wanted "Rise Now" to be the hymn to anyone in need of a voice.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself right here!


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