An all girl Saudi Arabian rock band named Accolade received some exposure earlier this week by the New York Times. Comprised of four college students, these ladies are not afraid to express themselves through a medium that has traditionally been deemed unlawful by their country’s standards.

The existence of Accolade is groundbreaking on two levels. The first and most obvious is the cultural one. In some Middle Eastern countries, anything that even closely resembles western culture is punished (i.e. long hair on men, tattoos/piercings). So for these ladies to be making a strong wave in the rock music scene in Saudi Arabia is great. More importantly, Accolade is showing the world that women can make it too in this game of rock and roll. It is very rare to find a band (for the sake of this conversation band is being defined as those who play their own instruments and write their own songs) comprised entirely of females in the world. The only ones that immediately come to mind are Bond and The Donnas and both of these groups have received varied levels of attention throughout their careers. Yet, one could hardly even conceive the existence of an all female band in Saudi Arabia!

Of course like all other bands who love western music, but cannot openly practice/perform (Acrassicauda) Accolade suffers in the same way. They are not allowed to even publicize their music for it is all steeped in western culture.

This saddens me as usual, that a creative community would not be allowed to express themselves. However, the Times article goes on to discuss how the music scene in Saudi Arabia has slowly garnered more and more freedoms as time continues. This natural evolution will eventually allow for all of those who are interested in the western arts to practice and perform as they please. This just might take longer than some would like.

The existence of a band like Accolade makes me very happy, for in the work I do there is definitely a large drought of females in the rock music game and it excites me to see more and more ladies grabbing their instruments and bringing their talent/passion to the forefront for all to see and enjoy.

The prevalence of western music in places where anything western is frowned down upon makes me hopeful as well. Considering that 60% of Saudi Arabia’s population is comprised of young people, this is an opportunity for the U.S. to garner the goodwill of the youth in these countries by assisting them in expressing themselves, for they are the future of their respective nations and the U.S. is missing a great opportunity to do as such.

Finally and most appropriately, reading about groups like Accolade, make me thankful that I live in a country where these types of privileges and luxuries are not only allowed, but encouraged as well.