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John, Paul, George, Ringo and Omar – Ruth Nasrullah


Seven8SixI had the distinct pleasure of hearing the Muslim “pop” group Seven8Six. Their performance was part of a concert put on by a new nonprofit organization, the Crescent Arts Foundation. Seven8Six consists of five young men of South Asian descent from Detroit. They use only percussion instruments. They combine songs in English whose topics address Islamic issues with traditional Urdu songs derived from the Muslim Indian/Pakistani tradition. (Modafinil)

There’s a jaded part of me that’s accustomed to off-key or half-hearted live shows by performers whose success rests less on talent than on heavy studio engineering and a hyped-up public presence. I kind of expected Seven8Six to sound bad live, but they actually sounded better than on their albums. Their harmonies were true and their presence was powerful.

Seven8Six subscribes to the more conservative Islamic view of music by using only percussion as backup. Opinions on the permissibility of music in Islam range from completely prohibited to allowable only with percussion to completely allowable. Seven8Six chooses, as have other contemporary American Muslim groups such as Native Deen, to sing with only percussion.

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I really enjoyed the concert, but halfway through I started to feel weird. I had a bit of a flashback to the days when I discovered the Beatles, and although at 47 my response to what is essentially a boy band isn’t the same as it was when I was 12, young girls in the audience were responding in typical teenage fashion, as evidenced by their screaming at the end of each song. They started out trying to restrain themselves – a friend of mine who was sitting a few rows behind me said the girls in that section were apparently trying to display decorum by waving glow lights instead of screaming, but by the end of the set their enthusiasm apparently overcame their haya. Seven8Six has been criticized for inducing this sort of response – and I kind of agree. Even though they aren’t overtly sexual, they’re good-looking, they’re young, and they’re masculine. There’s an interesting blog post here that addresses how Seven8Six exerts a somewhat un-Islamic influence. The post includes a response by Seven8Six.

Music is undoubtedly one of the things many western Muslim converts struggle with. It was always part of my life, whether the Beatles or CSNY or the Indigo Girls or the B52s, Nirvana or Earth, Wind and Fire, and so on and on. My father is a jazz drummer, and my great-uncle was a well-known composer. Like clothing, music is part of many people’s identity, and changing it for the sake of Islam is a struggle. Music and clothing can both be very sexual, making them representative of changes in moral outlook influenced by Islam.

Do teenage American girls who are raised Muslim in this culture struggle with that too? Seven8Six may sing about Islamic subjects and may not use string or wind instruments, but I’m sorry, they are hot. Do boy bands have a place in Islamic culture? Maybe, but if you’re making young girls scream it might be a sign that you’re going in the wrong direction.

Originally posted by Ruth at her Chronicle Blog.

See also: The End of Music

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  1. Shirtman

    May 28, 2008 at 10:40 AM

    Assalamualaikum Warathmatulah-

    Sister Ruth:

    Thank you for your honest assessment of the performance by the young brothers you speak of. First I would like to say that being “hot”
    is not a sin. Yusuf (as) was beautiful as you know

    (14) So when she heard of their accusation, she sent for them and prepared a banquet for them; she gave each one of them a knife (to cut the foodstuff with), and she said ((to Yoosuf (joseph)): “Come out before them.” Then, when they saw him, they exalted him (at his beauty) and (in their astonishment) cut their hands. They said: “How perfect is Allah (or Allah forbid)! No man is this! This is none other than a noble angel!”
    ( سورة يوسف , Yusuf, Chapter #12, Verse #31)

    Second, Dressing up in nice clothes is also not a sin (evidence)

    (1) It Is narrated on the authority of Abdullah b. Mas’ud that the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him), observed: He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise. A person (amongst his hearers) said: Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine. He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people. (Book #001, Hadith #0164)

    , I was there at that concert with very good seats Alhumdulillah and they were not wearing anything bad or tight. Third, please be careful of criticizing good efforts one of the characteristics of the hippocrates is to criticize in At-Taubah

    79 Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allahs Cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to give charity (in Allahs Cause) except what is available to them, so they mock at them (believers), Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and they shall have a painful torment.

    . Fourthly, these brothers are working in the Islamic field, which I am sure you know by now has many trials and afflictions. They are trying to provide a “halal” alternative to the junk music and entertainment that you and I both see floating around us day in and day out which is the Sunnah.
    (1) Narrated Abu Said al-Khudri: Once bilal brought Barni (i.e. a kind of dates) to the Prophet and the Prophet asked him, “From where have you brought these?” bilal replied, “I had some inferior type of dates and exchanged two Sas of it for one Sa of Barni dates in order to give it to the Prophet; to eat.” Thereupon the Prophet said, “Beware! Beware! This is definitely Riba (usury)! This is definitely Riba (Usury)! Don’t do so, but if you want to buy (a superior kind of dates) sell the inferior dates for money and then buy the superior kind of dates with that money.” (Book #38, Hadith #506)

    Please try to be more appreciative. Even shayookh and/ or Muslim leader(s) who are good looking get marriage proposals (even though they are married) and live in the U.S. Girls will be girls, but you don’t stop providing an alternative for 1100 people b.c “12 little girls” can’t control themselves.

    Let us please be more positive in our approach.


    Shirt man

  2. ibnabeeomar

    May 28, 2008 at 10:49 AM

    this actually reminds me quite a bit of the article yvonne ridley wrote regarding sami yusuf:

    shirtman – heres the question though, is it still a ‘halal alternative’ if the audience reacts the way that it does? yvonne ridley i think makes a similar point about their reaction.

  3. Shirtman

    May 28, 2008 at 11:03 AM

    12/ 1100 isn’t the audience amigo :)

    Please try to be more appreciative. Even shayookh and/ or Muslim leader(s) who are good looking get marriage proposals (even though they are married) and live in the U.S. Girls will be girls, but you don’t stop providing an alternative for 1100 people b.c “12 little girls” can’t control themselves.

  4. Sami Rahman

    May 28, 2008 at 11:15 AM

    salaam aleikum,

    I think that this article by Sister Yvonne Ridley captures some of the reasons why this is not all that the author above makes it out to be:


  5. MR

    May 28, 2008 at 11:22 AM

    I’m not a fan of 786 boys’ music. The brothers may have good intentions, but from what I had seen a while back at ISNA didn’t go to well with me.

    Shirtman you said that scholars also get proposals from girls, but the girls that propose are probably not the screaming ones at concerts. They are most likely students of knowledge who want to be within a family of ilm.

    Native Deen and 786 boys are very similar in their music, but yet Native Deen does not come across as a “boy band” rather as a group of brothers singing nasheeds. Why is that? Is it because of their looks? No it’s not. It’s ND’s adab, its ND’s communication with the audience, its their entire attire and the environment they surround themselves in. Native Deen frequently says “Takbir, or Alhamdulillah, or MashaAllah”. I have not been to a 786 boys concert in a long time (few years now) but the one I went to back in ISNA 03 or 04 (not sure which year) they weren’t really trying to remind the crowd of Allah but rather they were acting like the Backstreet Boys.

    Plus, they remind of the typical desi student at any university thats part of the MSA AND part of the desi club.

    Allah knows best. May Allah (swt) forgive me for anything wrong I have said.

  6. ibnabeeomar

    May 28, 2008 at 11:23 AM

    the audience is just one point though. i’m not fully sold on the fact that its a “halal alternative”

    i know they are popular, but there’s plenty of other activities that can be “alternatives” without needing a concert. i just think it opens the door way too many other things. its not an issue of positivity/negativity, we appreciate the efforts everyone does and ask Allah(swt) to put barakah in our efforts and guide us to what is correct, but it doesnt mean that a positive effort brings an automatic pass to any criticism – nor does it mean to go to the other extreme of being overly critical.

    i ask myself if i would take my daughter to such an environment (nasheed group or not) and i dont think i would. if you would – then we just have to agree to disagree compadre :)

  7. fais

    May 28, 2008 at 11:25 AM

    perhaps shirtman can help us find a hadith permitting muslim men to perform for muslim women and/or vice versa? :-)

    i’m just sayin, concert, music haram, halal, whatever…lets keep the social intermingling of the sexes to a minimum :-|

  8. iMuslim

    May 28, 2008 at 11:27 AM

    Perhaps the answer is not to have live concerts? I doubt young girls get quite as excited listening to CDs. Plus to ignore the negative effect on one set of believers (young girls) saying it benefits another set (those in need of a ‘halal’ alternative) is not really the Islamic way.

  9. fais

    May 28, 2008 at 11:50 AM

    You very well know you can’t make people “want” otherwise: if people want concerts, people will inevitably have concerts. But lets limit our male performers’ audience to males only, our women performers’ audience to women only…

    And my brothers, YOU KNOW how guys are! You can’t tell me boyband artists don’t enjoy performing in front of screaming women! And if you if u don’t believe me, have a boyband perform in front of an all guy audience and see how long that lasts…

  10. salafFollower

    May 28, 2008 at 12:34 PM


    Good points.

    Isn’t the Hadith about the abyssinians performing in the Masjid Nabwi and Ayesha (RA) watching them standing on the Prophet’s shoulder proof that men can perform in front of women?

  11. Asim

    May 28, 2008 at 12:39 PM


    The fatwas I have seen from religious scholars about mucic state that:

    (1) Out of all the percussion instruments, only the Daff is allowed
    (2) That its allowance too is predicated on occasions like weddings and Eids
    (3) That this allowance is only for women, not for men

    While I am not sure if all the scholars hold this same view, I have seen these conditions being mentioned by more than one scholars, belonging to more than one school of thought. I have also seen these conditions backed up by Ahadith by the ones giving the ruling.

    Since in the show you have written about, none of the above three conditions was met, it is clearly NOT a halal alternative for anything–at least if one subscribes to the opinion I have alluded to.

    I wish for the day when we in North America would have just as large gstherings solely to hear the Qur’an being read. Imagine a “concert” where the only thing read is the words of Allah: Not as a token, not just to put Barakah at the beginning of some other Islamic function, but as the “Main Event”, for an hour or two straight.

    That would be a much more enriching and uplifting experience!


  12. Shirtman

    May 28, 2008 at 12:40 PM


    Again, I did not see any inappropriate behavior from the young gentlemen from the concert, and they do dhikr as well.

    I don’t understand how you can control someone els’s actions? Should a good looking Muslim lock himself in a room so his coworkers dont flirt with him?


    Well, I dont have a daughter SubhanAllah so you got me there.

    Check my evidences for mixing-at the wedding integrate post.

  13. ibnabeeomar

    May 28, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    i agree w/imuslims comment 100%. i dont think it is an either or situation. to answer your question though, no you dont need to lock yourself in a room, but at the same time, there’s not necessarily a need to get up on stage and dance for them either :) alhamdulillah, i am quite good looking and i manage to avoid both situations :P

    MR’s comment – i think i might have been at the same isna conference lol because i remember the same thing. Allahu Alam maybe that aspect of it has improved now as br shirtman mentioned, but i have to admit it did leave a really sour taste in my mouth.

    also regarding the abyssinian thing, i think thats an interesting point. from what i understand though, it wasn’t dancing as much as it was something more along the lines of what we might now see as more of a martial arts demonstration type of thing than dancing.

  14. FearAllah

    May 28, 2008 at 1:19 PM

    Ruth N: Do teenage American girls who are raised Muslim in this culture struggle with that too?

    NO. At least I don’t alhamdulillah and many people I know wouldn’t care for it either. The way I see it, is that it’s just fulfilling one’s desires by finding “halal alternatives”. I swear this whole halal alternative argument is just overrated. What we can agree on, however, is that you’re not getting rewarded by attending such gatherings so why don’t you make a better use of your time? :)

    2 ¢ents

  15. Umm Ibraheem

    May 28, 2008 at 1:50 PM

    Ruth N: Do teenage American girls who are raised Muslim in this culture struggle with that too?

    Nope. Not everyone anyways. I went to a few fundraisers where Native Deen and 786 performed, and when I saw some of the girls screaming and singing along loudly, I thought to myself that this couldn’t be right. Plus, if you go to a performance and watch these brothers and are thinking to yourself, “Wow, they’re hot” you should lower your gaze…and maybe just leave the room.

    I used nasheeds to stop listening to music, but even gave that up afterwards. Like FearAllah said, you’re not getting reward from it. You can do dhikr without having music playing in the background. Besides, reading a book or listening to a lecture would be so much more beneficial…

  16. Umm Ibraheem

    May 28, 2008 at 1:51 PM

    Ruth N.: Seven8Six chooses, as have other contemporary American Muslim groups such as Native Deen, to sing with only percussion.

    Really? It sounds like they use more than a duff…I think they use drums and other instruments too.

  17. Shirtman

    May 28, 2008 at 1:54 PM

    The absyn. thing if you look at the whole hadith and Aisha’s commentary it wouldn’t count as a proof. Otherwise Shirtman would have pulled it Alhumdulillah.

    Don’t flatter yourself ibn! ;)

    (4) Narrated ‘Ursa: aisha said, “While the Ethiopians were playing with their small spears, Allah’s Apostle screened me behind him and I watched (that display) and kept on watching till I left on my own.” So you may estimate of what age a little girl may listen to amusement. (Book #62, Hadith #118)

    (5) Narrated ‘aisha: The Prophet was screening me with his Rida’ (garment covering the upper part of the body) while I was looking at the Ethiopians who were playing in the courtyard of the mosque. (I continued watching) till I was satisfied. So you may deduce from this event how a little girl (who has not reached the age of puberty) who is eager to enjoy amusement should be treated in this respect. (Book #62, Hadith #163)

  18. Shirtman

    May 28, 2008 at 1:56 PM

    Previous Hadith were Bukhari in case someone was wondering

  19. AbdelRahman Murphy

    May 28, 2008 at 1:57 PM

    this actually reminds me quite a bit of the article yvonne ridley wrote regarding sami yusuf:

    Except I felt that this post had a bit more tact. Masha Allah, good insight. I wrote something similar about MAS Youth’s Outlandish concert in Chicago

  20. Shirtman

    May 28, 2008 at 1:59 PM

    Having said all of this, to be honest, I understand the author’s opinion. In our culture, unfortunately, when a guy sings in front of women, the fitnah is there no doubt, and since our culture encourages “worshipping” our superstars, it is something that in my opinion should be avoided at this current time and place.

  21. Shirtman

    May 28, 2008 at 2:07 PM

    I do, however, feel that the way that Junaid Jamshaid sang his songs, was very peaceful and “fitnah-free” so to speak. I could be wrong, but there was an admirable ambience, he also called people to the remembrance of Allah, like he actually gave mini lectures with his nasheeds, and when he asked people not to clap or whistle; scream they listened, and replied with JazkAllah as requested. So maybe it is about presentation. SubhanAllah, the more I think about this article, the more I think of how we should dress when we give talks at the Masjid or at conferences or at Khutbahs.

  22. taalibilm

    May 28, 2008 at 4:28 PM

    Salaam alaikum,

    shirtman thx for seeing the other side of the matter. Junaid jamshed i think is a pretty gud example. u can tell he focuses more on the islamic content rather than publicity and shor shraba etc…

  23. MR

    May 28, 2008 at 5:07 PM

    Presentation is what it’s all about. I agree.

  24. SaqibSaab

    May 28, 2008 at 8:15 PM

    Knowing the brothers of Seven8Six personally, I feel I can say something more unique about them.

    Firstly, we gotta remember that they’re also living real human beings, and more importantly, fellow Muslim brothers. Sometimes when we refer to others, we talk about them like they’re mindless robots that we pick and critique from. Alhumdulillah, this article, while critical, was a LOT better than some of the critiques we’ve seen in the past.

    Secondly, it helps to know the background. From what I’ve seen, these brothers grew up listening to the likes of Boyz II Men and similar famous R&B groups in the early 90s. They honed their talents from singing at local community events and eventually decided to band together and create an R&B group of their own, only with an Islamic music light.

    I would say while many of us disagree with what happens at these concerts, it’s not unconditionally always the performers’ faults. The reality is that this is simply how girls have been raised in the West. Those screaming of fan girls would happen just as loud if not louder had they chosen to go to a non-Muslim musical concert.

    The crtical thing to do is to also check if the problem lies on our end, especially at home with how parents are raising their children and teaching them the importance of hayaa (modesty).

    And Allah knows best.

  25. Mustafa Jibraeel

    May 28, 2008 at 8:51 PM

    I am a muslim munchkin brother (that would be a cool website name minus the brother part!) – who goes to highschool and I have to say I’m not sure why many muslims have taken it upon themselves to make muslim ‘alternatives’ to things like music. In effect, I believe all we are doing is imitating the kuffar and not following the deen the way we should be.

    Like Native Deen – It seems that a lot of Muslims grow up as hip hop junkies – and when they are Islamically conscious they use Native Deen to get their fix and feel like “it’s all good”. Then they defend themselves saying that Native Deen says good Islamic stuff too! – so does one who listens to Native Deen completely and whole heartedly does so with the intention to get closer to Allah? – C’MON!! Stop fronting!

    I’m not saying that nobody should listen to Native Deen – but I’m just using it as an example where Muslims try to find “alternatives” to things they think they can’t live without. Subconciously or Consciously, Muslims therefore don’t believe that the Islam is not a complete deen – that the way of the prophet SAWS is not complete and that they need to find something similar to the activities of the kuffar, but can label it halal.

    This alternative/imitation problem is all over these fan girls of Muslim singers etc. All we have done is recreated Nsync or the backstreetboys with its entire environment and hypocritically labeled it as “Halal”

    Just a thought

  26. harxxn

    May 28, 2008 at 9:01 PM

    Br. SaqibSaab

    Just a thought…
    Well if that (the screaming etc.) is what always happens in these concerts, and the brothers know about it, aren’t they responsible to do something about it?

  27. SaqibSaab

    May 28, 2008 at 9:05 PM


    Yeah, don’t get me wrong. Keep in mind that I’m not saying that one side (performers vs. us) is or isn’t entirely at fault. My point that it is incorrect to only point fingers at the performers without remembering that it’s our own banaat that are out there at these concerts.

  28. salafFollower

    May 28, 2008 at 11:29 PM

    The bottomline dear brothers & sisters is the following, for both the performers and the attendees at such a ‘concert’:

    – is it something pleasing to Allah (SWT)

    – is it a gathering that is surrounded by Allah’s Mercy and Favor?

    – is it a gathering which is surrounded by the Angels?

    – for both the performers and the attendees – is the angel on the right busy writing in the book of deeds or is it the angel on the left side?

    – after the concert, is the heart of the believer content and at peace ‘Lo! Only in the remembrance of Allah do the hearts find rest!”? Or is the heart agitated and restless with the burden of sin and trangression?

    – is it an event where you would feel comfortable inviting the Prophet (SA) or any of his companions, or any of the rightly guided imams and scholars of our times and expect them to enjoy and participate in the ‘rememberance of Allah’ that is evidently taking place?

    I would like everyone on this forum to post a YES or NO reply to these quesitons.

  29. Ibn Masood

    May 29, 2008 at 12:01 AM

    IMHO, I don’t listen to nasheeds with any sort of tune or catchy rhythm to them (as per Shaykh Uthaymin). Without going into any detail, I’d rather listen to the Quran and spend my time listening to that as opposed to spending my time listening to nasheeds. For me, its less about ‘Islamic Culture’ which I see to be trivial in this case, than it is about pleasing Allah swt.

  30. Ibn Masood

    May 29, 2008 at 12:03 AM

    And about the performance, they should really take it upon themselves to remind the audience what the purpose of them singing in the first place is.

  31. Sami Rahman

    May 29, 2008 at 1:00 AM

    another set of articles that I thought would be relevant on this topic, however these focus more on the entire phenomenon of “manufacturing music” via boy/girl “bands”:,11710,1282756,00.html

    the article makes the point that many of these individuals who are in this form of entertainment are no different than eunuchs/castrated males in the Middle Ages who sang and danced for kings/queens. Shouldn’t be all that surprising since many of them have admitted to being and promoting homosexuality actually:

    keeping in mind that the guy who recently manufactured most of these boy bands in Florida i.e. N’Sync and Backstreet Boys just went to prison:,0,3312606.story

    Q: these are the people and forms of entertainment that we are holding up as role models for Muslims?

  32. mcpagal

    May 29, 2008 at 1:44 PM

    “…if you’re making young girls scream it might be a sign that you’re going in the wrong direction.”

    I think a lot of the time the bulk of the blame lies with the audience, not the performers. Its the young girls that are doing the screaming after all! Seems like they’d seriously need some basic education on ettiquettes and stuff. If you’re so little in control of yourself that you start screaming for a bunch of guys on stage, then there’s probably bigger problems there.

    The first nasheed concert I went to, a whole bunch of the sisters who were stewarding were waving their arms and shrieking to the performance… They were older than I was! I thought ‘dude… they’re singing tala’al badru alayna, calm it down. I asked them to stop dancing and stuff, but they were very offended. It looked really bad because they were the stewards of this event, they should have been setting an example.

    The performers do have responsibilities though – I think they should tone it down and keep things simple. Last time Native Deen were in town, there were flashing lights and everything during their performance, and they were trying to hype up the crowd every so often. It made me feel really uncomfortable. I think it’s also different if the sole purpose of the event is the concert, rather than just having some nasheeds as light entertainment during a wider programme.

    In essence: everybody should calm down… :P

  33. salafFollower

    May 29, 2008 at 6:17 PM

    I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to make this point: we cannot decouple the issue of the permissibility of these nasheeds and concerts from the ‘bad environment’ that reportedly exists at these events. We need to think carefully about the permissibility of ‘halal’ nasheeds and concerts – where the performers are professionals whose sole purpose is to ‘entertain’ the crowd.

    We need to understand that the scholars, who have deep wisdom and insight into this religion and the reasons for its legislation, have pointed out that music (in whatever form) is usually accompanied by evil things – alcohol, dancing, gender mixing etc. etc. This is the very nature of music. I once heard Sh. Suhaib Hassan say that everything has a key to it, and “Al-ghina Miftah-u-zina” – Music is the key to zina.


    Therefore, asking ppl to ‘calm down’ is not going to solve anything because the *essence* of music (even with Islamic wordings – doesn’t matter – is anyone really paying attention to the wordings?) is that it is a doorway to evil and therefore the only solution is to shut this door for good. Because its sole purpose is only ‘entertainment’. And the sad part is that we’ve now made an ‘Islamic’ justification for it.

    I know that many scholars have permitted anasheed etc. but there is a difference between a brother/sistetr impromptu singing a nasheed in an informal gathering that has a nice Islamic meaning to it that encourages good deeds etc. vs. making a whole professional industry out of it where Muslim nasheed ‘artists’ get paid to entertain other Muslims. There is a world of difference in that and we have to understand this and know that we are headed in the wrong direction if we encourage such activities in our communities.

    I was shocked to see some of the youtube videos linked from this article. If I hadn’t known better, I would never have been able to tell that this was an Islamic event with Muslim performers and Muslim attendees. Are we really so keen on spending this much money (stage, lights etc.) to listen to a nasheed when our brothers & sisters are suffering all over the world? How would a Muslim in Gaza feel if he saw this concert?

    We need to hold ourselves accountable before we are held to account.

  34. Aboo Uthmaan

    May 29, 2008 at 7:23 PM

    Salaf Follower – May Allaah reward you!

  35. Abu Ninja

    May 29, 2008 at 10:03 PM

    MashaAllah salafFollower.

    My thought exactly.

    May Allah reward you InshaAllah.


    Abu Ninja

    p.s. How anyone can say music is ok and these anasheed concerts are ok after listening to Kamal el-Makkis beautiful lecture ‘The End Of Music,’ in my opinion has to be a follower of hawaa.

  36. Ruth Nasrullah

    May 31, 2008 at 7:24 PM

    Salaamu alaikum everyone. Sorry, I’m out of town and just saw today that this was posted. I will do my best to respond to comments in a couple days when I’m back in town. :)

  37. Olivia Kompier

    June 3, 2008 at 12:25 AM

    I think the problem lies in the fact that young girls find that behavior to be normal and it is characterized as “normal” behavior for a concernt. Its like “hey, this is a concert, what am i supposed to do?”

    I think a nice solution would be for the band themself to, at the beginning of the concert, set the guidelines for how they would like sisters to respond or appreicate their performance. If it came straight from them most likely i would be honored. Maybe make it a point next time to announce at the beginning “Sisters, we appreciate your support and would love it if you would show that support by waving your glowly stick. Our best female fans are the ones who bring their haya to our concerts.”

    Someone wanna call their PR guy a memo? ;)

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