Ani Zonneveld

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Ani Zonneveld
BornKuala Lumpur, Malaysia
GenresSpiritual, Pop[1]
Occupation(s)Musician, vocalist, songwriter, record producer, writer, non-profit president
InstrumentsVocals, piano, keyboards
Years active1990–present
WebsiteOfficial website

Ani Zonneveld (born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) is a Malaysian-American singer, songwriter, activist and writer based in Los Angeles. She has released full albums of her own, including "Ummah Wake-Up", "One", "Islamic Hymns: Celebration of Life", produced for other artists, and participated in the writing of Grammy-winning songs.[1] She is the first Malaysian to have won a Grammy.

She is the president and founder of Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), a non-profit organization in the United States with affiliates in Canada, Europe, Chile, Australia and Malaysia, creating inclusive communities that welcome and supports interfaith marriages, gay marriages, gender & sexual minorities, as well as sectarian minorities.[2]

Zonneveld is also the editor, along with Vanessa Karam and Olivia Samad, of "Progressive Muslim Identities: Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada," a 2011 anthology that features a diverse groups of Progressive Muslims, with the foreword by Aasif Mandvi, published in the United States by Oracle Releasing.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ani Zonneveld was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, along with five other siblings, and was raised in Germany, Egypt and India as the daughter of a Malaysian ambassador and his stay-at-home wife. In 1981, she moved to the United States where she studied economics and political science. After college, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a musician instead of following in her father's footsteps as she was expected to.[citation needed]

Music and activism[edit]

As a musician, songwriter and producer, Zonneveld had a bustling career, produced several pop song for singer Ziana Zain for her earliest albums from 1991 to 1994 as well as composed pop tracks for Fauziah Latiff, Aishah and vocal boy-band Kool in Malaysia, she then collaborated with Siti Nurhaliza for which she won several top awards at the Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM), Malaysia's top music award-giving organization, including winning the Album of the Year twice with Siti's "Adiwarna" (1998) and "E.M.A.S" (2003) pop album; while she is three times finalist of Anugerah Juara Lagu, a local song competition through her collaboration with Kool (1997 for "Cemburu" and 1998, "Satu Arah) and Siti (2003, "Ku Milikmu").

In Hollywood, her collaborations with Keb Mo' earned her a Grammy nomination, becoming the first Malaysian ever to be nominated and to win such a prestigious award. But after the September 11 attacks in the United States, Zonneveld's Muslim identity became a strong part of her identity, leading to write and produce spiritual-themed music, including an album titled "Ummah Wake-Up," in which she sings the praise of Islam while encouraging Muslims to raise up for progressive causes, and began performing at various interfaith organizational events in an effort to raise awareness of Islam as a religion of peace.[1]

A few years later, Zonneveld joined other concerned Muslims of progressive background as board member of Progressive Muslim Union of North America (PMU), launched on November 15, 2004 in New York City. Before disbanding in 2006, the group was met with controversy when in 2005 they supported a public woman-led prayer in New York City, raising a global uproar.[4]

In July 2007 at Sarah Lawrence College, New York, Zonneveld, spearheaded the founding of Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV). Since its founding, Zonneveld has presided the expansion of MPV into several chapters across the United States, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Australia and Malaysia, and have secured a consultative status at the United Nations. Among its success include "Literary Zikr," a project that turns scholarly works into everyday language aimed at the youth and the general public; "Progressive Muslim Identities," an anthology highlighting personal struggles of progressive Muslims in the United States and Canada, including women of interfaith marriages, LGBT Muslims, and other minorities.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Kari Huus, Battling for gay rights, in Allah's name, MSNBC, October 24, 2011
  2. ^ a b Jaweed Kaleem, Progressive Muslims Launch Gay-Friendly, Women-Led Mosques In Attempt To Reform American Islam, Huffington Post, March 29, 2012
  3. ^ Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), Anthology Archived March 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Andrea Elliott, Woman Leads Muslim Prayer Service in New York, New York Times, March 19, 2005