Me N Ma Girls
Gig Seeker Pro

Me N Ma Girls

Band Pop EDM


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Myanmar Focus Online Magazine"

See .pdf - Myanmar Focus Online Magazine

"Myanmar Focus Online Magazine"

See .pdf - Myanmar Focus Online Magazine

"Interview on Morning Brew Radio – RTHK (Hong Kong)"

Click link to hear interview. - RTHK (Hong Kong)

"Me N Ma Girls perform “Girl Strong” on Women to Women – Thailand"

Click link to view video. - Women to Women (Lakorn TV Thailand)

"Me N Ma Girls perform “Girl Strong” on The Morning Show – Thailand"

See video. - The Morning Show (Lakorn TV Thailand)

"Me N Ma Girls"

See url for video. - Chime for Change by Gucci

"The Me N Ma Girls: Finding Their Voice"

Individuality. Style. Originality. These are all things you’d expect from pop music, right? But what if you are the first original girl group in your country and you get told by police that you can’t even wear a colored wig? There’s no room for Nicki Minaj then.

This is what the Me N Ma Girls, the pop act from Myanmar (formerly Burma) have had to face. It’s only been in the last year or so that they have had the freedom to express themselves through their music. It’s the struggles they’ve endured under a military junta and growing up as girls who are not only trying to be artists but women in a sexist country that bring them together and make their music impactful.

The group’s message can almost entirely be taken from their name. Me N Ma is a play on their country’s name, Myanmar. They are a sisterhood to whom “in their hearts, the single most important thing in all of this is opening up their beautiful country to the world” says Daniel Hubbert, the band’s manager from their recording company Power Music, Inc.

Their new recording label is based out of Los Angeles, so even though crossing over to the Western/American music industry might be a challenge, they have high hopes in reaching radio and TV play throughout the world. “They are not perfect. They are raw. The real deal,” said Hubbert. He says this sort of authenticity resonates with dedicated fans.

The group of five write their own songs, which is different for most artists in Myanmar who gain publicity by covering popular Western songs. They are all young women in their 20s so their lyrics center around love, loss, and a desire to be known. They’ll be flying to LA soon to shoot the music video for their new single “Girl Strong,” which is their first western style, all English single. They will always record tracks in their native Burmese language, but singing in English is one way to introduce them to the rest of the world.

They’ve already gained popularity in Malaysia and Singapore, more so than in Myanmar. This is due to Myanmar’s present lack of steady media. When the Me N Ma Girls were flown to NYC for the Women in the World Conference back in April, their country’s media outlets started to recognize their influence and potential.

Along with Myanmar’s new freedoms, the group has paved the way for other bands that were formerly underground to start performing regular gigs.

They have more to offer than your average pop group. They are more than just Myanmar’s version of the Spice Girls. “The Me N Ma Girls have a depth and perspective, brought about by cencorship and sexism in their country, that gives them an edge,” Hubbert said. “They are all deeply spiritual as well.”

Fame and success, to them, isn’t about money. It’s about pursuing the once impossible dream of being an artist and having something to say to the world.

Check out their single “Girl Strong” on iTunes, and listen out for a club mix soon. The catchy dance tune with the lyrics “get out of my way, because I’m a fire ball that can’t be tamed,” might be your summer 2013 anthem. - Conscious Magazine

"Sydney Film Review: ‘Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls’"

Capturing a nation in transition, Juliet Lamont's entertaining documentary is a fest crowdpleaser.

Showbiz dreams and political commentary mix harmoniously in “Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls,” an entertaining docu about the first all-girl pop group to emerge from Burma (Myanmar). Filmed between 2010 and 2012, when the release from house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi brought fresh hopes of freedom to many of Myanmar’s citizens, the docu effectively presents the big picture of a nation in transition through a Girl Power-charged portrait of the group and its go-getting Australian manager-mentor, Nikki May. The sophomore feature by promising documaker Juliet Lamont (“The Snowman”) is a fest crowdpleaser and ought to notch significant worldwide airplay on suitable broadcasters.

Using a tourist visa and a small camera to sidestep the lockout of foreign media during Myanmar’s 2010 elections, Lamont opens with eye-catching footage of the power pop ensemble performing outdoors for a wildly enthusiastic crowd. While stern-faced oldsters look on from a distance and military police observe without interfering, the sweltering throng is cooled off by friendly use of water hoses and not the fierce spray of water cannons associated with repressive regimes. The immediate and compelling impression is of Myanmar experiencing the “youth running wild” phenomenon that swept many Western countries in the 1950s.

Compact profiles of the five Tiger Girls are culturally and musically illuminating. Cha Cha’s dream of making it in Hollywood faces a hurdle in the shape of her stern, ex-military father; Ah Moon is confident and ambitious, but her strictly religious family does not approve of her Muslim boyfriend; Htike Htike lacks dancing ability; Wai Hnin’s singing isn’t up to scratch; and Kimmy, from the Chin Hills Christian minority, is contemplating plastic surgery to correct her “Northern and ugly” looks. One of Lamont’s neat stylistic touches is to include a solo song from each member that expresses her hopes and fears while advancing the storyline.

Whatever their religious and cultural differences might be, the Tiger Girls regard helping their families financially as a prime motivator for success. The five are similarly united by a desire to challenge the widespread perception in Myanmar that young women who sing and dance in public are prostitutes.

Guiding the combo through unchartered territory is May, a straight-talking, self-critical young Aussie who abandoned unspecified career plans of her own to train the promising but unpolished singers. One of the docu’s strongest threads involves May’s dealings with Peter Thein, a local showbiz entrepreneur who signs the Tiger Girls to his stable, then drops them after they fail to secure a deal to appear in TV commercials for a major brand. As bluntly explained by Thein, such contracts are essential for commercial success in Myanmar’s entertainment business. Worse still, a dispute over ownership of the group’s name forces the Tiger Girls to adopt the new identity of Me N Ma Girls.

From this low point at around the halfway mark, the docu’s fighting underdog spirit revs up nicely. Against the energizing backdrop of Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and election to parliament, May encourages the girls to write original songs with political and social content now permitted by relaxed censorship; an eye-opening trip to Bangkok, style makeovers and the recording of a new album soon follow. Though tinged with a bittersweet air, the overriding emotions in the final scenes are optimism and a sense of triumphing over many of the odds.

Directed and lensed with plenty of verve, the docu leaves a few unanswered questions about the financial role played by May’s b.f., Chris, a little-seen “oil and gas man.” But in its primary function of introducing the Tiger Girls/Me N Ma Girls to audiences and contextualizing their personal lives and professional struggles, the pic delivers the goods in bouncy and breezy style. Crystal-clear recordings of the group’s up-tempo live performances are part of the movie’s thoroughly pro technical presentation.
- Variety

"Burmese babes: Me N Ma Girls aren’t copycats"

SINGAPORE — They sing, they dance, and they are Myanmar’s first girl band.

But the ladies in Me N Ma Girls (geddit? Myanmar Girls?) aren’t stopping at their home country. The group recently opened the Music Matters convention here in Singapore, and performed at the Women In The World summit in New York City. And now, three years into the job, they plan to make another trip to Los Angeles to film a video for their song, Girl Strong. The band’s Htike Htike (pronounced “tie tie”) tells us what it means to be a part of the country’s first girl group, and how it feels to be representing Myanmar abroad.

You call yourselves Me N Ma Girls. Does that mean you’re representing your country every time you perform?

Htike Htike: We used to be called Tiger Girls, but we were forced to change our name because our ex-producer wanted us to make copy tracks and we didn’t want to anymore. We wanted to represent our country, and to represent our country’s traditional culture as much as we can. We wanted to prove to the world that we can do original tracks, so we changed our name to Me N Ma Girls. So yes, in some ways, we are representing our country.

How’s it like to be a pop music group in Myanmar? Are there any rules you have to follow?

Actually, we know the boundaries of censorship, so we censor ourselves before the censors get to us. We know we cannot dye our hair, but we want to push the boundaries a little, so we wear colourful wigs. But censorship laws have been getting looser.

You’ve been in the scene for three years. Has anything changed since you started?

Yes, Myanmar has really changed these last three years. Under the rule of the military government, we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t create anything and we couldn’t sing for our country. There was little space for the arts. But now, we have a lot more space. Our country has really changed, and we can sing about the truth. And even though we are girls, we’re also interested in politics. That’s why we made a song called Come Back Home — we’re calling our people from outside the country, who are working and getting jobs in other places, to come home and support our country.

Do audiences react differently to your performances in Myanmar and abroad?

Support from the public is really different. In our country, people know us, and they support us even though they sometimes criticise us – but in good ways. We also have many fans who support us individually. But in New York, people were really crazy! We were so surprised. They supported us as a girl band because they saw that we were five artistes who were under a lot of pressure, and who came up despite the pressure.

Which groups do you look to for inspiration?

In our country, we don’t have teachers who can teach us how to be a girl band. That is why every girl band is our teacher. We have to learn from every girl band, not just the Spice Girls, but also the Pussycat Dolls, 2NE1 and other bands. Some people ask if we copy those bands — no we don’t. But we think of these girl groups as our teachers. - TODAY

"The New Myanmar - Artistical Freedom"

See Video. - Channel News Asia

"The New Myanmar - Artistical Freedom"

See Video. - Channel News Asia

"Me N Ma Girls: Meet Myanmar's Bravest Girl Group"

See Video. - Now This News

"The World: Burmese Group Me N Ma Girls Invade New York"

Burmese Group Me N Ma Girls Invade New York

We first told you about the pop group the Me N Ma Girls early last year. Their career was taking off, and their native Myanmar was in the very early days of emerging from decades of military rule. There have been some big changes in the country and for the group since then.

A couple of week’s ago brought another milestone: the Me N Ma Girls’ first show in the U.S. We talked to them a few hours before that show, which wasn’t, by they way, at some off-brand, dimly-lit club. It was at Lincoln Center in New York City.

The last time we talked with them, in January of 2012, they were really excited about a small victory they’d just won from Myanmar’s censorship board: they were allowed to wear colored wigs in one of their music videos.

“When we heard that news we shouted and chanted,” band member Htike Htike enthused at the time.

Today, that censorship board doesn’t even exist.

“Now we can sing freely and we have freedom of speech. That’s why we’re really glad,” Htike Htike told us when we caught up with the five members of the Me N Ma Girls in the lobby of the swank midtown Manhattan hotel where they were staying, right across from Lincoln Center.

They say one thing they did with their expanded freedom was pen the new song “Come Back Home.”

The lyrics talk about how much potential Myanmar has right now, and how the country needs all of the expats who fled during decades of repression and bleak prospects.

Htike Htike summarizes the song’s message this way: “Please come back home to build for our country. Let’s do it together; let’s build together.”

“Most of Myanmar people are, you know, shy and afraid to express their feelings because they have been under the military government. Even me,” Me N Ma Girl Ah Mon continues. “Now is the time to wake up and time to show them what we’ve got. You can live everywhere because it’s better, but your home is here. It’s here that we need you, because we’re building, recreating a new country.”

The group got a dose of Myanmar pride while they were touring New York City before their gig, at a place you might not imagine pop groups going for inspiration. “I can’t believe, oh my God, I’m here in UN, and I’m seeing everything in the UN building,” says Winnie.

She and the other Me N Ma Girls toured United Nations headquarters, and posed for a picture in the main General Assembly hall. The place has a particular significance for their country—the UN’s third Secretary General, U Thant, was from Myanmar, and is still a national hero.

“When I saw the U Thant picture, you know, at that time I can feel it: ‘Oh my God, we can do it what we want, we can be a leader’. That’s good; that feeling is so amazing and so great, yeah,” says Cha Cha.
The Me N Ma Girls at the UN (Photo Credit: Me N Ma Girls Facebook page)

The Me N Ma Girls at the UN (Photo Credit: Me N Ma Girls Facebook page)

The good feelings continued. A few hours after we talked to them they closed the annual Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center. Hillary Clinton had opened the day. Then the band was off to L.A. to record some more tracks for their first international album.

Bruce Wallace is a Brooklyn-based journalist and multimedia producer. In addition to reporting regularly for The World, he has also contributed to This American Life, The New York Times Magazine, and the Washington Post. - The World

"Me N Ma Girls' Women in the World Performance - Girl Strong"

Me N Ma Girls performing their new single: "Girl Strong" at Women in the World! Get the single on iTunes: - Me N Ma Girls YouTube

"The Me N Ma Girls Close Out the Women in the World Summit"

“Can you hear me now?” sang Burma’s first all-female pop group, Me N Ma Girls.

The guests of the fourth annual Women in the World summit could—and they cheered the courageous girls, who face being banned in Burma just for doing what they love: singing.

Burma has undergone remarkable changes in the past few years. Famed human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi was released from decades of house arrest in 2010, the same year Me N Ma Girls formed. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the country last year. And just last week, the country published its first independent newspapers in 50 years.

The women of Me N MA Girls, who all have college degrees, are the first girl group to perform original songs instead of just copying tracks.

“Most of the bands copy tracks, because it is easy to be popular,” said Htike Htike Aung, who studied computer science in school. “We don’t want copy tracks because we want to create our own way and also now we have freedom of speech in our country and we can say what we want.”

Despite their pride in their country (their name is a play on the phrase Myanmar’s Girls), the singers have faced censorship at nearly every turn. Lalrin Kimi, who goes by Kimmy, said she once was banned from a commercial because she had dyed her hair yellow. Lung Sitt Ja Moon, who goes by Ah Moon, said the girls once wanted to perform a music video with wigs, but “ugh, the censorship, they won’t allow.”

“We thought, let’s try, let’s push this boundary and if they don’t allow, let’s do black and white,” she said. The girls were the victors in the end—by the time they shot the video, the country had started to change its laws.

The girls sang the intro to the summit’s final presentation, the Women of Impact Awards.

This year’s honorees included Molly Melching, the founder and executive director of the Tostan; Susana Trimarco, who has worked tirelessly to combat human trafficking after her daughter disappeared in Argentina; and Phiona Mutesi, the 16-year-old Ugandan chess champion.

But Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s editor in chief, Tina Brown, also had a surprise: “By popular demand,” Brown announced, the Women in the World Foundation also honored two of the summit’s most popular panelists, Pakistani activists Humaira Bachal and Khalida Brohi, who both have been working to educate girls in their country. - The Daily Beast

"Me N Ma Pop Girls"

Dancing girls, sexy outfits and provocative lyrics have been largely absent in the images coming from Myanmar in recent years, but that is about to change with another voice of the country's youth finding an audience, the Me N Ma Girls _ this time on an international stage.

Now signed to Los Angeles label Power Music, the country's first all-girl pop group was the brainchild of Australian dancer Nicole May and local entrepreneur U Moe Kyaw. They formed in 2010, and were originally called the Tiger Girls, not long after the skateboarding short film Altered Focus: Burma was made and well before today's relative freedoms were even considered a possibility.

"Burma [Myanmar] started to change a lot soon after we formed our group," say Me N Ma Girls members Cha Cha, Htike2, Ah Moon, Wai Hnin Khine and Kimmi in a joint interview via email. "We can speak freely now, about policy, the government, everything. Censorship has been loosened."

The group have been working hard for creative freedom, cutting their own path to success through the political and cultural red tape that has wrapped the country for decades. "When we started as a group, everybody thought that we were just dancers because there weren't any five-member girl bands before us. And the internet was not widely used. But now people are starting to support girl bands."

In 2011, the group of girls in their early twenties renamed the band, a pun on the country's name, to be more culturally relevant and present the new face of Myanmar's youth. At the end of the year they released an album of original songs called MinGaLarPar (Greetings), which included only one cover. While this was an important development for popular culture in the country, it also drew criticism.

"We've been told we're arrogant because we don't sing cover songs any more.

"The new generation, who know popular music, dislike covers too. People are all starting to realise how important it is to do original music. It's changing gradually."

The group have generated other cultural frictions through their comparatively liberated attitudes and behaviour. Cultural practices have held strong under years of military rule, at the same time preserving traditions and social norms while also deterring Westernisation or other change.

"In our culture, girls are supposed to be polite, quiet and shy. But we're loud and brave to get what we want. We have to push the boundaries by showing our people that we can be loud in a good way, even though we're wearing traditional longyi. Before, the future of young Burmese was in the hands of the old. Now, the future holds better education, chances and choices for young Burmese."

The Me N Ma Girls' underlying theme of promise through newfound freedom is what defines this important new cultural voice of Myanmar.

"We love our culture. We have a lot to say." - Bangkok Post

"The Next Big Thing"

See Link for More... - Fah Thai Magazine

"The Next Big Thing"

See Link for More... - Fah Thai Magazine

"Me N Ma Girls"

The Me N Ma Girls are the first ever all-girl, all-singing pop/hip-hop group and dance ensemble from Yangon, Myanmar. Founded in February 2010 by Australian dancer Nicole May and Burmese marketing expert U Moe Kyaw, the band’s five current and original members are Ah Moon, Cha Cha, Htike Htike, Kimi, and Wai Hnin.

Initially intended to be Myanmar’s equivalent of Great Britain’s "Spice Girls", they were originally named “Tiger Girls”. Their first album, Year of the Tiger Girls (July 28, 2010),[1] consisted of ten songs, all but one “copy tracks” (popular foreign cover songs with substituted Burmese lyrics). As college educated composers and musicians in their own right, the band and May sought more artistic freedom, split from Kyaw in February, 2011, and took the name “Me N Ma Girls”, a play on “Myanmar girls” and an indication of the group's belief that the young women of Myanmar should stand proud and make change together.

Their second album, Mingalarpar, released December 17, 2011, featured a dozen tracks, the only non-original song being a four decades old local classic, as an authorised tribute to the country's strong traditions. The band became internationally recognized for their fight against censorship in Myanmar, and debuted their country’s first overtly political song “Come Back Home”[2] on May 10, 2012 during a visit from US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer. On June 13, 2012, the band signed with Power Music of Los Angeles, California—the first such signing for any pop/hip-hip band from Myanmar to an American label.... - Wikipedia

"Burma's Purveyors of Pop Don't Even Know They're In a Fight..."

The band is called Me N Ma Girls, a play on “Myanmar girls.” They are battling conservative parents, a censorship board and boyfriends who think it is outrageous that they go onstage in such
skimpy outfits.

Myanmar, formerly called Burma, is emerging after years of dictatorial military rule and isolation. There is talk that the government’s censorship board, which vets songs, articles and movies, will be abolished. As the country feels its way back into the Asian mainstream both politically and culturally, the old Myanmar of government-sanctioned art and traditional, ankle-length sarongs is being challenged by the prospect of more Western-inspired entertainment, clothing and lifestyle…
- The Daily Swarm

"Burmese Women Ready to Play Leadership Role: U.S. Ambassador"

(Mizzima) – Women have an important role to play in Burma and they are strategically positioned to play a much larger role the months and years ahead, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer told reporters in Rangoon last week.
Melanne Verveer, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues, speaks at a press conference at the home of Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon on Sunday, May 6, 2012. Photo: Mizzima / Lynn Bo Bo

Melanne Verveer, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues, speaks at a press conference at the home of Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon on Sunday, May 6, 2012. Photo: Mizzima / Lynn Bo Bo

Verveer said that just before she was scheduled to leave the country, she met with the five members of the Me N Ma, a popular girl band that writes their own lyrics.

She said, “You know they comprise Chin, Kachin, Burman, and there they were, five women who came together to start a band and sing music appropriate to what’s on the mind of the young people everywhere.”

She said they told her about their newest song not yet released, and they sang it for her.

“And the lines were: 'To Burmese everywhere, come back home. Myanmar is changing. We need you.'’”

“They were looking at the future with great hope, with great possibility. And that was their song to their fellow citizens wherever they were living. And I thought that it was a fitting ending to this trip that I just have been privileged to take to be able to hear young people sing out so eloquently for a new day, a new day that they want to have and they want to see realized in their country.”

Asked if she talked with government officials about women in the border areas where many are refugees from the war, she said women and their children have borne the consequences of war.

“We have asked for access for humanitarian organizations – the UN and others – so that they can provide the kind of assistance and support that is critically needed,” she said.

In Kachin State, she said what is required is reconciliation.

“And reconciliation will not come until that conversation begins and it is a serious conversation,” she said. “Obviously, you need to end the hostilities and you need to begin to get in the humanitarian assistance. But [reconciliation] has to start very, very seriously… Women have a critical role to play in peace, security and reconciliation.”

Asked about her assessment of women rights in Burma, she said she was highly impressed by “the commitment, the intelligence, the determination, the capacity, the great desire for women, no matter what their age, to roll up their sleeves and really work towards creating the kind of country that will create a better life for all of the people here.

“I think they have a level of ability, and know-how and commitment that is truly something that will bode well for everyone here in the weeks and months ahead,” she said.

Burmese women expressed a desire to be involved in networks within the country and across the borders, she said.

“They want to be able to exchange best practices and knowledge so that they can take the kind of place they need to take,” she said. “And they certainly want to be a part of any peace and reconciliation efforts going ahead, in terms of the ethnic areas that have been beset by conflict.” - Ambassador Verneer's Press Release

"Burmese Girl Band Mixes Pop and Politics"

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The United States says it will ease sanctions on Burma and send an ambassador following successful by-elections on Sunday which saw opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi elected to parliament.

As Burma emerges from political isolation, there's been an explosion of artistic expression in the country, particularly in the form of music. Previously subjected to strict controls on costumes and lyrics, musicians are seeing a gradual relaxation of rules and they're changing country is providing them with plenty of inspiration.

This report from South-East Asia correspondent Zoe Daniel in Rangoon.

ZOE DANIEL, REPORTER: They've all grown up under military rule, barely born when Aung San Suu Kyi was first placed under house arrest. They've never had a taste of freedom. But now that it's within reach, they want it.

The Me N Ma Girls, reflecting the official voice of the country, also known as Burma, have been a girl band for two years. Australian manager, singer and dancer Nikki May, who's based in Rangoon, brought them together to sing pop and R 'n' B.

They've never sung about politics until now. The space for artistic expression has suddenly opened with political reform.

HTIKE HTIKE, ME N MA GIRLS: The other day, everybody on the roads, cheering! And this is the first time we saw the crowd.

CHA CHA, MA N MA GIRLS: So many people crowded and they shouted and (inaudible) and (inaudible).

ZOE DANIEL: Such a short time ago scenes like this were beyond the wildest dreams of the Burmese. For young people particularly, Aung San Suu Kyi was a mythical figure held behind closed doors by the junta. Now she's a politician elected by the people.

AUNG SAN SUU KYI, BURMESE OPPOSITION LEADER: We hope that this will be the beginning of a new era where there will be more emphasis on the rule of the people in the everyday politics of our country.

ZOE DANIEL: Having avoided politics altogether before due to censorship and even possible jail, the Me N Ma Girls are developing new awareness and they've found a voice they didn't even know they had.

AH MOON, ME N MA GIRLS: I don't like the, you know, the country is closed and which is not open-minded and which has been under the - someone's rules and we can't create.

ME N MA GIRLS MEMBER: All the things about freedom is really the first time of us, all the things. That's why we feel really surprised of that, you know.

ZOE DANIEL: The group reflects the diversity of a country wracked by constant conflict between ethnic groups and the Burmese military, something that has yet to be solved. But here, there's unity.

NIKKI MAY, MANAGER: They're from a really broad spectrum. You've got three different religions, three different - well, four different ethnic groups, five different socio-economic backgrounds.

ZOE DANIEL: Perhaps surprisingly, the group is more popular outside the country than inside, a reflection of conservative tastes due to the closed nature of society up until now. But there's a role to play outside too.

NIKKI MAY: Nothing's confirmed yet but we're getting requests from America and Singapore and Thailand - not Australia yet - to come and perform. But there's so many Burmese scattered throughout the world that I think they could really lift some spirits globally, and yeah, promote a different voice.

ZOE DANIEL: And now they have a new song.

About five and a half million Burmese people, about 10 per cent of the population, have left Burma due to repression and poverty. It's early days in the reform process, but the Me N Ma Girls want to bring them back.

HTIKE HTIKE: Please come back to our country because this is the changing time and just support our country to build itself up country.

ZOE DANIEL: It's a simple song, but even a year ago, they couldn't have sung it.

Zoe Daniel, Lateline.
- ABC Late Line

"The All-Girl Group from Burma Mixing Pop with Politics"

All forms of public expression in Burma have been tightly controlled for decades and music is no exception.

But as the country starts to show signs of moving towards democracy, the pop group Me N Ma Girls is hoping to find its voice.

Tom Santorelli reports.

"Burma’s First Girl Band Pushes Boundaries"

If there is one clear sign that Burma is in the midst of a political and cultural shift, it’s in its music scene.

The Me N Ma Girls, formerly known as the Tiger Girls, in Yangon in December. (Lillian Suwanrumpha, Demotix / Corbis)

Two years ago, the only pop songs being generated in the country were “copy tracks,” slavishly reproduced hits copying international stars like Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and various “K-Pop” idols from South Korea. The country was in mired in decades of military rule, its people reluctant to speak out against political leaders for fear of brutal repercussions. “Democracy” was a loaded word.

Then Nicole May arrived from Australia, leaving behind a career as a dance coach to teach in the orphanages of Burma. Recognizing a hole in the country’s music scene, May teamed up with Burmese music producer Moe Kyaw, and the two began talking about forming the country’s first girl band. They put an ad in the paper for an open casting call, and 120 girls showed up.

Five were chosen by May. Rather than basing her selections on looks, she says, she picked candidates for their outspokenness and energy. Each of the girls had a college degree, ranging from computer science to Russian. Their band name: Tiger Girls.

Their first track was a cover of Jamaican rapper Sean Kingston’s “Fire Burning,” which they debuted to a crowd of 3,000 in Mandalay during the annual Thingyan Festival, Burma’s New Year Festival. The audience, May recalls, was initially shocked at the sight of five girls singing a blend of English and Burmese lyrics, and dancing in styles that flew in the face of the country’s social conservativism. Then they started to get into it.

The group’s first track became a staple on Burmese radio stations, and the girls were booked to perform at a handful of private events. (Performing in clubs in Burma is not an option, lest the young women be deemed prostitutes.)

Still, profits were elusive, so after a year, the band cut ties with Moe and re-emerged as Me N Ma Girls (a play on “Myanmar Girls”). Their plan: to write original songs and push the limits of the country’s censorship board, which regulates virtually everything: costumes, lyrics, dance moves, videos, album titles.

From the start, the young women were told by industry insiders they would fail. “We were just too different,” says Htike-Htike, a soft-spoken Me N Ma Girl with blonde hair extensions and false eyelashes, speaking during a break between rehearsals in May’s rundown colonial share-house in central Yangon.

“We want to show the world our traditional culture, but also prove that our country isn’t so closed, so poor and backward.”

Further, by writing original music, the young women lessened their chances of getting sponsors for shows and merchandise. There was no money in original music, according to band member Ah Moon, whose red streaks in her hair belie her traditional upbringing. That is, unless “your daddy was rich and connected,” she says. The girls all had day jobs; one worked as a graphic artist, another as a zoologist.

With May’s help, the band secured a rehearsal space, where they met five days a week. Through YouTube and Facebook, they slowly built up their fan base, using their easy pop tunes and sway-along dance moves to draw views and “likes.” They booked a few corporate events at major hotels. Their blend of Western pop and Burmese tradition took off with a certain set of young, open-minded kids. Their first album, released in December, sells for 20,000 kyat, about $2.50. They still have their day jobs.

One song, “We Won’t Give Up,” is about perseverance and girl power. Another accuses a boyfriend of lying. “Fancy” talks about loving fashion but not being a slave to brands. Most songs are in English and Burmese. One song, “Mingala-Ba,” compares the people of Burma to regular folks around the world. (“Same hopes/Same dreams/Like any other girls in the world.”) Other tunes get more political: “Come Back Home” is about Burma’s refugees, many of whom still reside in Thailand and elsewhere.

The videos are generally makeshift and choppy, with the girls switching between traditional costume and revealing dance-floor looks—cut-offs, tank-tops, leather pants—that are typical in the West, but are still racy in Burma.

At the Burmese Water Festival, a celebration held in the new capital, Nay Pyi Taw, last April, the girls had a breakthrough. Incumbent President Thein Sein sat and watched the band stage-side, while a crowd danced and thumped behind gun-toting soldiers.

Things are changing in the country, albeit slowly. This past week, political dissident Aung San Suu Kyi won an unprecedented seat in parliament. The young band members are forging their way in a country still closed to the world, a place where children live at home until marriage and are generally only given a grammar-school education before being sent to work.

The young women’s parents, some of whom are vill - Newsweek : The Daily Beast

"Myanmar Girl Band Challenges Culture"

Jonathan Mann introduces us to Myanmar's newest and unlikeliest export, the "Me N Ma Girls." Reported on 13, January, 2012. - CNN

"Myanmar's First Girl Band Me N Ma Girls - Pushing New Boundaries @ The NewYork Times"

The five members of Myanmar's first girl band are pushing the limits of artistic acceptability in this socially conservative country - New York Times

"Myanmar’s First Girl Band Pushes Limits of Censors, and Parents"

YANGON, Myanmar — With their sensual choreography and provocative outfits, the five members of Myanmar’s first girl band are pushing the limits of artistic acceptability in this socially conservative country.
World Twitter Logo.
Connect With Us on Twitter

Follow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.

Twitter List: Reporters and Editors
Enlarge This Image

Wai Hnin Khaing, of Me N Ma Girls, took a break during a video shoot in Yangon.
Enlarge This Image

Member of Me N Ma Girls, Myanmar's first girl band, performed at a hotel in Yangon.
Enlarge This Image

Lung Sitt Ja Moon tried to calm herself before the show; her father is still grappling with her career choice.

But when their parents call, asking why they are still not home at 10 p.m., the band members scurry back to their lives as deferential daughters.

“We are living two different lives,” said Lung Sitt Ja Moon, who is known onstage as Ah Moon and is the daughter of a Baptist minister. “We do what we want to do onstage, and then we go home to our parents.”

The band is called Me N Ma Girls, a play on “Myanmar girls.” They are battling conservative parents, a censorship board and boyfriends who think it is outrageous that they go onstage in such skimpy outfits.

Myanmar, formerly called Burma, is emerging after years of dictatorial military rule and isolation. There is talk that the government’s censorship board, which vets songs, articles and movies, will be abolished. As the country feels its way back into the Asian mainstream politically and culturally, the old Myanmar of government-sanctioned art and traditional, ankle-length sarongs is being challenged by the prospect of more Western-inspired entertainment, clothing and lifestyles.

“People think that if a girl is wearing something too sexy, she’s not normal. They think she’s a bad girl,” said Ah Moon, whose father, the preacher, is still grappling with her career choice.

The members of Me N Ma Girls often arrive at their rehearsals dressed in traditional outfits before changing into denim shorts and tank tops — clothing that would raise eyebrows on the streets of Yangon.

They do not see themselves as rebels but are tapping into a trend by Myanmar’s younger generation, especially in urban areas, to embrace Western pop culture, albeit on Burmese terms.

Me N Ma Girls released their first album in December and have been raising their profile inside the country with a string of concerts in Yangon in recent weeks.

The band is a creation of Nicole May, an Australian dancer who came to Myanmar three years ago and handpicked five women from 120 candidates who responded to an ad on the radio and in newspapers.

In other countries, pop musicians are dogged by drug abuse, chased by paparazzi, embroiled in sex scandals.

The members of Me N Ma Girls, all of whom are in their early 20s, have a different set of problems: The power regularly goes out in one of their practice venues, and the roof leaks during the rainy season. The censors express various objections — the band was barred from using colored wigs last year. But then, “tipping” the censors helps the process along.

“We try our best to be hot, but not too sexy,” said Wai Hnin Khaing, another band member.

Cash is another problem. Ms. Wai Hnin Khaing’s mother makes a living selling pork salad on the street for 200 kyat a plate, or about 25 cents.

Me N Ma Girls is a rare mix of Western management and Burmese musicians, says Heather MacLachlan, author of the recently published book “Burma’s Pop Music Industry: Creators, Distributors, Censors.”

The notion of an all-girl band is still novel in Myanmar, where the music scene is dominated by men, said Ms. MacLachlan, who is a professor of music at the University of Dayton in Ohio. (One stumbling block for female artists: The notion of unmarried women traveling on musical tours with male band members is taboo, Ms. MacLachlan said.)

Me N Ma Girls sings about love and heartbreak and boy-meets-girl scenarios that might be benign in other pop cultures but rankle in a society where children live with their parents until they are married.

In the video for a song called “Festival,” band members dance in a sweaty nightclub and take a dip in a swimming pool. They peer over sunglasses as they sing the suggestive lines: “Hey you! Are you happy? You want some?”

“I’ve NEVER seen girls behave like that, ever,” Ms. MacLachlan said in an e-mail message. She was referring to female decorum in Myanmar.

Ms. May, who is a graphic designer by profession, chose the band members using criteria atypical for the doll-like girl bands common across Asia. Ms. May said she wanted attitude and charisma.

“I wanted five girls who had energy and magnetic attraction,” Ms. May said.

All five of the members of Me N Ma Girls have college degrees, in the fields of chemistry, zoology, mathematics, Russian and computer science. The band members, while not - New York Times


Still working on that hot first release.



Me N Ma Girls are Burma's first all-singing, all-dancing, all-girl group. The four talented performers have released their first all original album 'MingaLarPar'. Rehearsing in a run down old house in downtown Yangon, and keen to have a voice and make a difference to the world, they've performed for dignitaries, members of parliament, and major venues throughout Southeast Asia. The girls are now working with Power Music Inc. and a variety of producers in the U.S. While they are working to expand themselves into a global force, their hearts will be forever anchored to Myanmar.