A Child of Refugees and A Woman of Color: Alisa Xayalith of The Naked and Famous
  • THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2017

  • Posted by: Abigail Raymaker

So far, 2017 has been a year of girl power in music. From Katy Perry's politically charged performance at the Grammys to Beyonce's eloquent acceptance speech, women in pop are not only making headlines but making their voices heard.

Recently Alisa Xayalith, front woman of The Naked and Famous, woman of color, and daughter of Laotian refugees has joined the chorus of powerful female voices in music using their celebrity to call for change. In an interview before their London show that concluded their European tour, Alisa told me a little bit about her family's story.

"My parents immigrated to New Zealand in 1979. They resettled in a refugee resettlement camp in South Auckland where they lived for a few years learning how to live in New Zealand. They learned how to go grocery shopping and fill out forms to send kids to school. They received English lessons from volunteers and learned about the ways of the world in general. I think that's one component that might be missing out of this global refugee crisis - once they get across the border, who receives them who teaches them about this new country that they've just landed in?" Last week, Alisa published her family's story in Clash Magazine, where you can read the full story.

"I saw this ban go up - this executive order all of the sudden take place, and I felt so angry and so passionate about wanting to take a stand somehow. I wanted to represent the positive side of refugees in the public forum. And I thought, 'you know what? Of all of the times I would share my family story, now is a good time.' People write to me and tell me that my stories are comforting, and it helps them realize that no dream is too big. It doesn't matter who you are and where you come from. I don't yet know any other peers who have the same background that I do. I would love to know what other artists have the same background [coming from a refugee family]."

Not only is Alisa the proud child of refugees who is spreading her story to give others hope, she is also one of the few female front women with Asian heritage among internationally successful bands.

"I'm a woman of color. I don't think I've had a different experience necessarily, but maybe I haven't gotten the same opportunities as other front women who aren't women of color. Doing fashion stuff... the way that I look isn't represented in the magazines or the music pages that I read about. It's just not. I'm not really sure, it could be a number of different reasons as well, but that thought has occurred to me."

Coming up, fans can anticipate some exciting new live shows for The Naked and Famous. They'll be touring with Blink 182 and Wavves starting in March. As for Alisa, she's not yet sure if she'll continue to write pieces like the one she wrote for Clash, "I'd never really considered it until now when I wrote that piece. It was definitely an inspiring action that I was making, so perhaps in the future. At this point in time I'm unaware of my ability, or how far my voice will carry itself, so I'm just feeling it out."

Voices like Alisa's matter and can help inspire change. If you'd like to donate to the UN Refugee Agency, visit HERE.

Photos of Alisa Xayalith performing at The Forum in London:

The Naked and Famous London Forum


The Naked and Famous London Forum


The Naked and Famous London Forum


The Naked and Famous London Forum


The Naked and Famous London Forum


The Naked and Famous London Forum


The Naked and Famous London Forum


Also don't miss our live concert with The Naked and Famous:

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