El Morabba3: Alternative Arabic Music Band from Jordan

CD Cover.  Ali Saadi Photography. Designed by :Tarik El-Khateeb
El Morabba3 is a combination of 4 'angles' including Muhammad Abdullah's voice and lyrics; Tareq Abu Kwiak's voice and lyrics; Odai Shawagfeh's ambient guitar; Dirar Shawagfeh's melodic grooves.Their first album will be released on Thursday July 5th 2012.  See HERE.

Here is their video clip 'Ya Zein'--beautifully shot in HD quality:

Here is their album Launch Concert Trailer 2012:

El Morabba3's Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/El.Morabba3

Band Member Names in Arabic:

ضرار شواقفة: درمز و توزيع 
محمّد عبدالله : باص جيتار و تأليف و توزيع و غناء
عديّ شواقفة : جيتار و ميدي افكتس و توزيع 
ارق أبو كويك : تأليف توزيع غناء و ايقاع

Tania Saleh Sings about Sunni & Shiite Fraternity

Tania Saleh's 'Omar W Ali' is a timeless song pleading for peace and fraternity between both the Shiite Muslim and the Sunni Muslim communities in Lebanon and the Middle East. This version has been recorded live during her performance at the Democratic Republic of Music in Beirut on December 2011.

This song is available at http://forwardmusic.net/music/wehde

For those who may be in Lebanon in July 2012, Tania Saleh will be performing live on Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 9:00pm in UTC+03.  LIVE at DRM.

After the great success of Tania Saleh’s latest album “Wehde” released in 2011 and Nadine Labaki’s internationally acclaimed film "Where Do We Go Now" that she co-wrote the songs for, she decided to review all her repertoire at DRM where she will perform songs of her first and second album in addition to Nadine Labaki’s films songs.  She will also perform 2 new unreleased songs that she wrote for her next album.

For reservations and information please call DRM at +961.1.752 202 +961.700 300 32 or visit

Ghazi Abdel Hadi and the Communiqué CD Trilogy (2012)

Ghazi Abdel Baki is a Musician/composer/ producerwho began his music career in 1985 as a musician and played with many bands in Lebanon and in the USA, namely: Amnesia (Lebanon 1985 - 1987), Munir Khawli Group (Lebanon, 1988 and 1995), Nobody's Fault (New York, 1988-1991), Forcado (Lebanon, 1992), Bare Necessity (New York, 1993-1995), Ziad Rahbani (Lebanon, 1995-1996), Virus (Lebanon, 1997-1999), Grand Prix with Ziad Rahbani (2007).

Proficient at mixing genres, Ghazi Abdel Baki interprets his own texts and those of poets such as Elia Abu Madi, Ahmad Shawki and Rabindranath Tagore to various styles such as bedouin-funk, Afro-Cuban, folk and jazz. His music is like Beirut: a crossroad of cultural fusion. He founded "Forward Music" in 2001 and has produced the works of the main contemporary artists of the region: Charbel Rouhana, Soumaya Baalbaki, Mustafa Saïd, Ghada Shbeir, Issa Ghandour, Gros Bras, Ziyad Sahhab, Paul Salem and Fareeq El Atrash.

More recently, Ghazi Abdel Baki has released a CD Trilogy titled Communiqué #1 (2004) and Communiqué #2 (2006-7) and The Last Communiqué (2012). All these CD's are available for sale at http://www.forwardmusic.net/artist/ghazi-abdel-baki

Here are some tracks from Ghazi's albums:

Adonis & Tina Yamout - Ma Kan Mafroud [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

'Ma Kan Mafroud' is a collaboration between Lebanese pop/folk band Adonis and singer/songwriter Tina Yamout, featured on Adonis' first studio album 'Daw L Baladiyyi', which was released in July 2010. Directed by Robert Cremona, written and composed by Anthony Khoury, recorded and mixed at Tunefork Recording Studios. Adonis is Anthony Khoury, Joey Abou Jawdeh, Fabio Khoury, Nicola Hakim & Vladimir Kurumilian | www.adonisband.com |www.facebook.com/adonis.band.lebanon |www.facebook.com/tinayamoutofficial


ما كان مفروض تكون موعود

انّو بشي يوم ، معقولي تعود

كبروا ولاد وصاروا جدود

ولكانت دار، صارت حدود

بحور بتطوف وجبال بتوقع 

وفي شي منّا بعدو مفقود

ناس بتروح وأجيال بتقطع

ولراح ما بعمرو بعود

من هوني جينا ، ولهوني من عود

هوني ربينا ، جوانح وقيود

هوني اللّيل ، وهوني الحبّ الموعود

بدنيي بتبلّش وبتخلص بعيونك السّود

ما بقي شي ، لا جنينة لا ورود

حتّى الشّبّاك ، صار حيط مسدود

وبترجع كل يوم ، وبايدك ورود

وتحت الشّبّاك ، تنغّملا عالعود

بتتغيّر دروب وقصايد بتبلى

وغيابا كان والّه مقصود

وبعدك مزروب ، كل يوم بتكتبلا

قصيدة معناها مفقود

من هوني جينا ، ولهوني من عود

هوني ربينا ، جوانح وقيود

هوني اللّيل ، وهوني الحبّ الموعود

بدنيي بتبلّش وبتخلص بعيونك السود

Groundbreaking CD by Maryam (Saleh) Titled 'Mesh Baghanny'

Maryam .. an independent Egyptian artist. Singing and acting since the age of seven, Maryam worked with and cofounded a number of independent bands, sang semsemeya songs and was one of the most important singers of Sheikh Imam songs, after which she founded BarakA band, which is a unique blend between the oriental voice of Maryam, and Rock music. Maryam grew artistically at the hands of her father, director and playwright Saleh Saad and Sheikh Imam singer of the Egyptian resistance, and began her career at the age of seven. Maryam is now working on several new musical projects with different musicians from Egypt as well as from the Middle East (bio from www.mar-yam.com)

Maryam's Debut Album - Mesh Baghanny.

You can also buy Maryam's album at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/maryam22

Check out Maryam's Website at http://www.mar-yam.com/

Maryam's Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/maryam.page

Maryam on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/maryamband

مريم .. فنانة مصرية مستقلة أسست وشاركت في العديد من الفرق الموسيقية فغنت أغاني السمسمية وكانت من أهم من غنوا أغاني الشيخ إمام حتى أسست فرقة بركة بمزيجها المميز بين صوت مريم الشرقي وموسيقى الروك. تربت مريم فنياً علي يد والدها المخرج والمؤلف المسرحي صالح سعد والشيخ امام مغني المقاومة المصرية، فبدأتالغناء والتمثيل منذ سن السابعة وعملت في العديد من المسرحيات والأفلام مثل عين شمس وبالألوان الطبيعية حدوته من صاج و آخر أيام المدينة، تعمل مريم الآن علي العديد من 
المشاريع الموسيقية الجديدة مع موسيقينمتميزين من مصر وخارجها

Arabic+: Amazing New App by Benjamin Holfeld

Benjamin Holfield has created a brand new Arabic App that is sure to be of great use to anyone traveling around the Arab world.  Includes an efficient note system to store all your travel notes such as names of people, places, WiFi Passwords and more.

Imagine you are in Cairo, Dubai, Amman or Baghdad and want to find your hotel. With this app you can ask anyone to help you, for example, find a taxi--and in the car you just need to show your notes, let the app speak, etc. and the cab driver knows where to go. 

The audio recording is in Modern Standard Arabic so it will be understood in any of the 20+ Arabic speaking countries on earth and the audio quality is excellent.  The voice is that of Arabic native speaker Ahmad Qousi who eloquently delivers Arabic phrases and words in a professional, direct and helpful way.

For more, see features and screen shots below.

Arabic+: Your personal travel & communication tool.


+ Two Tap Technology: Every phrase just one or two taps away. no tedious scrolling and search necessary
+ Innovative Note System: Ask people to write their infos in your phone and you will never forget it
+ 300 essential phrases organized in 8 categories
+ in general, flying, driving, walking, shopping, living, eating, health
+ clear audio recordings
+ visual and audio output
+ works offline in any country of the world

Download this innovative Language App - millions of other users enjoy the Apps by Holfeld.com



Click here to view app, etc.

Vote for Ramy El Gabry's Short Film 'This Time' Thru July 13, 2012

Egyptian Director Ramy El Gabry's short film titled 'This Time' has been selected as one of the 50 final entries in YouTube's 'Your Film Festival' competition.

The 11-minute film is a masterpiece in short filmmaking and examines a mother-son relationship, an ungrateful son and a kind stranger.

Ramy El Gabry is a truly talented Director/Filmmaker worthy of our support. You can watch the film and vote for his film (once a day thru July 13) at this link:


Good luck Ramy!

My CD Review of Jadal's 'Arabic Rocks'

Jadal / Arabic Rocks
Album:Arabic Rocks Collection:World
Artist:Jadal Added:06/2012
Label:Forward Music 

Album Review
Reviewed by Ramzi Salti, Ph.D.
Reviewed 2012-06-13 
Jadal is a Jordanian rock band, known for being the first successful group to record original rock songs in Arabic (Jordanian dialect). Arabic Rocks is Jadal's debut album, released in 2009, and consists of the tracks that they have played all along their career--tracks that made their audience double & triple throughout the past couple of years. The album also features a track co-created with the leading hip-hop crew DAM, named "Ya Bani Adam".

1. Iss (1:46) Rock instrumental retro
**2. Salma (2.34) The most popular song on this CD, instantly likable, about a little girl named Salma who is also a niece of one of the band members.
3. Ya Bani Adam (ft. DAM) (3:12) A rock tune hailing all humankind to keep evolving.
**4. Omr Jdeed (5:25) The most solid, typical track on this album. Sounds like Soundgarden.
5. Ya Ahla Oyoun (4:47) Slow rock ballad about gorgeous eyes.
**6. Al-Tobah (5:09) An old classic, originally recorded by Abd El Halim Hafez in the 70's, rock version!
7. Meen Shad Habibi (5.04) Slowest track on CD. Looking for a lost love.
8. Niyalak (4.05) Nice rock rhythm, about congratulating someone for seeing things in a new way.
**9 Eldaraweesh (3:20) Sounds like reggae meets soft rock. Best track on album according to the critics.
10. La Tloum (5:15) Starts slow then becomes a rock tune, harsh and a lot of guitar, drums.
11. Ghalbi Mithl El Ward (5:07) Title means 'My Heart Is Like Roses' and this track is slow, nice use of tabla - least rock-sounding track.
12. Nseet Ahla Thekra (5:25) Rock tune about forgetting the greatest memory.
13. Baya' Elkastana (3:20) Title means 'Chestnut Seller.' Hard rock sound.
14. Rah Bakkeer (5:19) Softer rock tune. Rock ballad, Jadal-style.

My picks: 2, 4, 6 & 9 Ramzi Salti

Track Listing
1.Iss (Instrumental) 8.Niyalak
2.Salma 9.Eldaraweesh
3.Ya Bani Adam Ft. Dam 10.La Tloum
4.Omr Jdeed 2 11.Galbi Mithel El-Ward
5.Ya Ahla Oyoun 12.Nseet Ahla Thekra
6.Al-Tobah 13.Bayya' Elkastana
7.Meen Shad Habibi 14.Rah Bakkeer

My Review of Yasmine Hamdan's New CD

Hamdan, Yasmine / Yasmine Hamdan
Album:Yasmine Hamdan Collection:World
Artist:Hamdan, Yasmine Added:06/2012
Label:Kwaidan Records 

Album Review
Reviewed by Ramzi Salti, Ph.D.
Reviewed 2012-06-13 
Yasmine Hamdan's self titled CD cements the solo career of this Lebanese female vocalist who has already achieved much musical success as part of such Arab alternative bands as 'Soapkills' and 'YAS.'  In this album, she includes new songs plus old Arabic classics, re-recorded with her own voice, while making them distinctly experimental, grungy, disturbing, yet completely appealing. CD is produced by Marc Collin.

1. In Kan Fouadi (3:47) Old Egyptian song in classical arabic. Very trance-like.
**2. Beirut (3:30) Based on a Lebanese song from the 1940s and set to 12-string guitar melody.
3. Samar (3:27) Has a Beduin feel. Sounds like a chant. Echoing vocals.
4. Baaden (3:26) Hypnotic tune sung with a Egyptian/ Palestinian dialect.
5. Ya Nass (3:15) Slow, rhythmic song calling out to people for help.
6. Irss (2:38) Song title means 'wedding.' Sung in Kuwaiti dialect. The most joyful track on this CD.
**7. Nediya (3:55) Whispery vocals set to thumping beat, slow but passionate. Picks up and slows down again.
8. Nag (3:41) Song about a relationship gone wrong. Sounds tense, slow, and gives the listener a sense of urgency. Builds up to faster rhythm.
9. Shouei (3:34) Ballad with string guitar and dreamy vocals about 'slowing down.'
10. La Mouch (3:32) Melancholic song about refusing to return to a past love. Instantly likable beat.
**11. Bala Tantanat (3:58). Title means 'Without Ceremony.' Starts out very slow giving way to breathy verses and eventual crescendo of back vocals.

My picks: 2, 7, 11

Track Listing
1.In Kan Fouadi 6.Irss
2.Beirut 7.Nediya
3.Samar 8.Nag
4.Baaden 9.Shouei
5.Ya Nass 10.La Mouch
 11.Bala Tantanat

'The War Around Us' San Francisco Bay Area Premiere on June 27

The Arab Film Festival is proud to present the Bay Area Premiere of
THE WAR AROUND US and Q&A with director Abdallah Omeish

In the winter of 2008 Ayman Mohyeldin was the only American living in the Gaza Strip. When the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was broken and the first bomb dropped on Gaza, Mohyeldin and fellow journalist and friend Sherine Tadros found themselves the only Western reporters there to capture it. This film chronicles the bonds of friendships under stress, the ethics of journalism in conflict and above all, the resilience of humans during war. With never-before-seen footage and testimonies reported from one of the most dangerous places on earth, the film bears witness to how Gaza changed them forever. Winner of Best Documentary at World Premiere for Newport Film Festival April 2012.  See screening dates and location below the preview.

75 mins. Wednesday June 27th at 7:30 only!
advance tickets: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/254107

VIP fundraiser reception with director Abdallah Omeish
Maroc Restaurant
3122 16th St, San Francisco

Followed by the screening of,

Roxie Theater
3117 16th St, San Francisco

Film only: $15 online/$20 @ door
VIP fundraiser reception: $25 online/$30 @ door
PACKAGE (online only): $60
-VIP fundraiser reception
-Reserved VIP theater seating

Arab Cultural and Community Center
Middle East Children's Alliance


Two Arabic Short Films Featured in YouTube's Top 50 'Your Film Festival' Entries

Two Arabic short films have been selected for YouTube's Top 50 short films as part of their 'Your Film Festival' competition.

The first is an Egyptian short film titled This Time هذا الةمان Directed By : Ramy El Gabry.  Starring : Awatef Helmy , Abdallah Alnahas , Khaled Megahd

You can watch the film (with English subtitles) below and if you like it you can vote for it (once a day thru July 13) at this link:  http://www.youtube.com/user/yourfilmfestival?x=player%2Fl9bbUJRv2JI__en_us

The second film is by Lebanese female director Niam Itani and it is titled Super.Full about a poor disabled couple chasing a dream in the richest city in the world.

You can vote for these short films if you like them on YouTube.  To see all 50 entries, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/yourfilmfestival

New Film Reveals Masterpieces of Islamic Art (Narrated by Susan Saradon)

Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World

New Film Reveals Masterpieces of Islamic Art
Documentary to Air on PBS July 6th

Narrated by Susan Sarandon

SILVER SPRING, MD – June 11, 2012 – Perceptions and ideas around Muslim identity and culture vary widely and too few are aware of the significant works of art and architecture that make up a large part of Islamic civilization’s legacy. Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, is a new documentary from award-winning Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) that brings to life this legacy and will be broadcast nationally on PBS July 6th 2012 at 9:00 p.m. EST.

Narrated by actor, Susan Sarandon, this 90-minute film takes audiences on a global journey across nine countries and over 1,400 years ofhistory to present the stories behind the masterworks of Islamic art and architecture.

Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World is the ninth film by Executive Producers Michael Wolfe and Alex Kronemer and UPF (Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain, Prince Among Slaves). The film was produced to nurture a greater appreciation for the exquisite works of art that Islamic culture has contributed to humanity. “I believe all viewers, Muslim and non-Muslims alike, will bepleasantly surprised with what our film uncovers,” states Alex Kronemer. “As a window into an often misunderstood culture, this film has the ability to be a real catalyst for understanding and perhaps offer a new perspective on Islam’s values, culture and lasting legacy,” continues Kronemer.

The film will air on PBS as part of the new PBS Arts Summer Festival, a multi-part weekly series that will take viewers across the country and around the world.

Viewers of Islamic Art are presented with a kaleidoscope of exquisite works of art – from the opulent Taj Mahal of Agra, India, to the written word in the form of Arabic calligraphy with master calligraphers such as MohamedZakariya. A common theme linking each of the showcased works is the way each piece of art is so different from the next – exemplifying not only the beauty, but the diversity within Islamic cultures. Each masterpiece is a contribution to the larger narrative of just how much Muslims have contributed and still contribute to society.

Michael Wolfe says, “Never before have viewers had the opportunity to explore such richness of Islamic art and history with commentary from some of the world’s most renowned experts who have the ability to explain just why these works are so important.” “We hope watching the film will result in Muslims feeling a source of pride, aswell as celebration in their heritage,” continues Kronemer.

After its national television debut July 6th, Islamic Art will be available on DVD for $19.95 through www.upf.tv.

Islamic Art has already caught the attention of thought leaders who are calling the film an important contribution to documentary filmmaking about Islamic cultures.

"UPF's Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World is a stunning achievement in documentary filmmaking. Itopens a window onto a sight of Islam so often neglected in the west. The aesthetic, beauty, and culture offer an opening for us all to start a dialogue on the values that we share and hold in common." - Karen Armstrong, Award-Winning author of religion

"This film will open the eyes and the imagination of American Muslims, reminding us all of our rich artistic heritage. I highly recommend that all American Muslims watch this documentary and share it with their neighbors!" - Imam Mohamed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America

For more info, onn Twitter at @islamicartfilm the evening of the premiere, July 6th, for a tweet chat using the hashtag #IslamicArt.

About Unity Productions Foundation

The mission of Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) is to create peace through the media. A nonprofit organization founded in 1999, UPF produces documentary films for both television broadcast, online viewing, and theatrical release, and implements long-term educational campaigns aimed at increasing understanding between people of different faiths and cultures, especially between Muslims and other faiths. For more information, visit www.upf.tv.

Media Contact: Lisa Mabe, Hewar Social Communications, 202.505.2890, lisa@hewarcommunications.com

Quelle Revolution: A Short Film by Lina Khatib

Shot on location in 2005 and first screened in 2006, this film ("What Revolution") takes a pessimistic stance towards Lebanon's so-called "Cedar Revolution", commenting on its conflation of patriotism with consumption, and doubting its casting of a lasting legacy on national unity. The film has not been shown in public since its last screening in 2007.  Filmmaker Lina Khatib is making it available to the public now--five years later--as the issues it depicts are sadly still pertinent in today's Lebanon.

The genre of the work is experimental documentary, and it's an almost silent film, save for speech captured off-camera. It has screened at:

- April 2007: Doc à Tunis international documentary festival, Tunis, Tunisia.
- November 5-12, 2006: DocuDays Beirut International Documentary Festival, Lebanon.
- September 2-December 17, 2006: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde and August 31-17th December: Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, Coding: Decoding Video Season, Denmark
- August 11 2006: Views from the Middle East: A Kaleidoscope of Identities, Opening Conference of the Images of the Middle East Cultural Festival, The National Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0901505/
To contact the filmmaker, Lina Khatib, please visit:http://arabreform.stanford.edu/people/Lina_Khatib/

New Web Site on Arab Contemporary Art Launched

To view the site: www.arabcontemporaryart.com

Launched in 2012 Arab Contemporary Art Online Gallery has the primary goal of promoting the art of Arab Artists worldwide by introducing their work through the web to the masses. It is an address that encourages established as well as emerging artists to showcase their creations and be part of a connected regional and international community of the visual arts. Artists are invited to join the site by creating an online profile to display their work and provide a commentary on their Art, themselves, and their experience and philosophy.

Artist Lina Kassis, whose work is showcased on the site, has this to say about it: "True Art is not what it has been dictated to be. True Art is special to each and every individual's artistic identity and only through appreciation becomes the source of inspiration for generations to come' (Lina Kassis)

International Alternative Music Festival in Carthage, Tunisia

An amazing event is taking place from June 14-20  in Carthage, Tunisia, showcasing alternative music from around the (Arab) world including performances by Mashrou' Leila, Yasmine Hamdan, Maryam & Zeid, Khiam Al-Lami, Kamilya Jubran, LaBess, Barbaroots, Boomj.

The schedule is as follows:
  • Thursday June 14: Badiaa Bouhrizi / Yasmine Hamdan
  • Friday June 15:Fadhel Boubaker/ Mar-yam &Zeid / Boomj
  • Saturday June 16: Tamer Abu Ghazaleh / Neshez 
  • Monday June 18: Barbaroots / Labess
  • Tuesday June 19: Mashrou’ Leila
  • Wednesday June 20 : Khyam Allami / Kamilya Jubran 
For more info see  https://www.facebook.com/events/422218931133177/

Yasmine Hamdan Feature in the New York Times

This article was originally publsihed in The New York Times on April 12, 2012 (all rights reserved) at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/arts/13iht-hamdan13.html?pagewanted=all

Arabic Music's Modern Voice

PARIS — It was a familiar Paris hipster scene. The crowd behind the discrete façade of the Tigre club in the First Arrondissement were in skinny jeans with carefully tousled hair and clutching expensive drinks. Marc Collin, co-founder of the cult electropop collective Nouvelle Vague was setting up vintage keyboards on a tiny stage. The female drummer picked up her drumsticks and the skinny-cool guitarist settled into place. Then the singer, in jeans and a black vest, looking out from behind long dark hair, took the mic and began to sing.

In preparation for the release of her new, self-named album, the Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan was doing a small gig in Paris, and as the crowd swayed to the music, their eyes fixed on the stage, it didn’t seem to matter if only 10 percent of the people there understood the words she was singing.

As with her past work — which includes the groundbreaking underground Beirut duo Soapkills, an album with the legendary Paris musician Mirwais, who produced Madonna’s album “Music,” and a collaboration with the alternative American rock group CocoRosie — Ms. Hamdan is looking again to bring Arabic singing out of the field of world music and into the musical mainstream.

“I love Arabic culture, and I hate how the Arab world is portrayed in the press today,” she said in an interview after a rehearsal last month in a cafe in the 10th Arrondissement. “I sing in Arabic as a statement. It’s art and it’s a challenge.”

Born in Beirut in 1976 and with a childhood moving between Lebanon, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Greece, Ms. Hamdan first found success in Beirut in 1998 playing in partnership with Zeid Hamdan (no relation) as the duo Soapkills. Part of the generation growing up after the Lebanese civil war ended in 1990, they named their duo after the idea that the city’s troubled history was being glided over too quickly.

“All the war being wiped clean, we thought, wow, it’s shiny and it’s awful and it’s soap kills,” Mr. Hamdan said in an interview with the local Daily Star. “We thought it would be a nice name for a band.”

A mainstay of the underground scene, the band mixed ragged electro beats with Ms. Hamdan’s husky deadpan vocals, which, from early on, were sung in Arabic.

“At the start I sang in English, but quickly I found myself asking why,” she said. “I felt intuitively that there was a gap to fill and also that it gave me a freedom — singing in Arabic but in my own way.”

At first she was rejected by radio stations in Lebanon. “It was seen as not cool. Either you sang traditional Arabic folk music or you sang rock in English,” she explained.

But the band quickly began to achieve cult status in the city. Major European and Arabic labels and producers approached Ms. Hamdan, offering contracts and mainstream success — if she would sing in English. She refused.

“This way of singing was a way of addressing the problems I had with having a sense of not belonging,” she said. “I was lost as a teenager. I had to reconstitute my memories. We moved around so much. Arabic music created my reference points, it’s thanks to that that I know where I am from.”

In 2002 she moved to Paris, where she continued making music with Soapkills, did a degree in performing arts and met the Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, who is now her husband. She started writing music for his films and through him met the producer Mirwais in 2005. Intrigued by her work, he agreed to collaborate on the album “Arabology,” produced by Universal, which came out in 2009 to critical and popular acclaim.

Despite one of the album’s songs being picked out as a title track for a French television news program, the music magazine Les Inrockuptibles, normally allergic to anything that smacks of mainstream, picked “Arabology” as one of its albums of the summer.

“You quickly forget that it is a popular hit,” the magazine wrote, “and simply celebrate this mix of electro and Arabic, an exercise in style that avoids the pitfalls of dodgy world music.”

But, for Ms. Hamdan, who had grown up creating music from a more grass-roots perspective, the experience of working with a major producer and label was one that she was happy to move on from.

“When I worked with Mirwais, it brought me out of the local scene,” she said. “It taught me how to mix Arabic with electro, it really pushed me to work with words. But Mirwais was the musical leader of the project, so it was a varied experience.”

After the publicity and touring linked to “Arabology” died down, she took time off to write more songs, dig through her archive of Arabic music stretching from the 1930s to the ’60s, and travel to the United States, where she worked with members of CocoRosie recording the song “The Moon Asked the Crow,” which has become a YouTube hit. Last September she started work on a new album in collaboration with Mr. Collin.

“I learned a lot working with Mirwais, and with Marc, I knew more what I wanted to produce, he is very relaxed,” she said. “With this new album, I wanted to go back to something calmer, more about the voice, mixing different Arabic dialects. The electro side comes from Marc.”

Roughly half of the songs in the album were composed and written by Ms. Hamdan, while the others are “freely inspired” from old Arabic songs.

“Beirut,” for example, is based on a Lebanese song from the 1940s. “My great aunt sang it to me all the time,” Ms. Hamdan said. While the original has a cabaret-style vibe, Ms. Hamdan’s version is melancholic and almost folky, set to a 12-string guitar melody by the guitarist Kevin Sedikki.

“I sing ‘Beirut’ for what the city is for me, but I am also singing as an exile,” she said. “It’s an impossible love.”

Ms. Hamdan has set two challenges for herself in her music. She is looking to pull Arabic-language music out of any politicized “world music” or kitschy, synthetically-made pop categories and into the hip music sphere. At the same time, by reworking old Arabic songs, she wants to keep music from the Arabic “golden age” of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s alive.

“There was no archiving at the time of old Arabic songs, they were hard to find,” she said. “When I started to collect old music, I had to search out underground dealers. Not everything was easy to find in Lebanon, so sometimes I would go to Syria to find more music.”

Ms. Hamdan mixes different dialects and forms of Arabic in her singing, inspired by performers who include the Lebanese-Syrian singer Asmahan, and the Egyptian singers Nagat El Saghira, Oum Kalthoum and Sayed Darwish. In her latest album, for example, “Beirut” is sung in a Lebanese dialect, “Baaden” is Egyptian and Palestinian, “Irss” is Kuwaiti, “In Kan Fouadi” is Egyptian and “Samar” is Bedouin.

“When the public doesn’t understand me, it’s a battle,” she said. “So when I choose words, I choose them for their musicality, rhythm and sense, and I choose the right dialect to express that.”

Asked whether she had been inspired by the youth movement behind the Arab Spring, she was circumspect.

“We have had neither enough distance nor enough time to work out what it means,” she said. “I was very happy when it happened, I was angry with the authorities in the region and I felt less alone in that. But I don’t think it is finished. Time will make things happen, it can’t just be revolution, change also needs time.”

In the meantime, her immediate plans include the release of “Yasmine Hamdan” in France on April 23 on Mr. Collin’s label, Kwaidan, followed by a release in the Middle East over the summer and tour dates beginning with a gig at Comedy Club in Paris on May 7. In addition, the song “Herzan” by Soapkills has been topping the playlist of Radio Nova, one of the most influential French mainstream radio stations, since last autumn. In addition, Zeid Hamdan, Ms. Hamdan’s former partner in the duo, had a four-page article dedicated to his new work as a music producer in Les Inrockuptibles this month. For Ms. Hamdan, however, the battle to be accepted is not yet won.

“It’s complicated for my music to be accepted, even in Lebanon and the Arabic world — I sing in Arabic, but there’s no lute, no classical instruments,” she said. “Maybe with the Internet opening things up, things will change.”

“I’m inspired by the Cocteau Twins,” she added hopefully, referring to the alternative Scottish rock band, whose lyrics were purposefully indecipherable. “No one questioned what or why they were singing.”

This article was originally publsihed in The New York Times (all rights reserved) at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/arts/13iht-hamdan13.html?pagewanted=all

Stanford Grad Wows Aaron Sorkin, Lands Role on 'The Newsroom'

Amin El Gamal--Photo by Daniel Reichert

(Los Angeles, June 11, 2012) Rising star Amin El Gamal (Drama and English, '08) will make his TV debut playing the title character on the fifth episode of Aaron Sorkin's highly anticipated show The Newsroom (premiering June 24 on HBO). El Gamal plays an Egyptian amateur reporter who wins the hearts of the newsroom staff (played by Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and Dev Patel) and becomes their rogue correspondent during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. The episode also marks the first ever Hollywood portrayal of the Arab Spring.

“As an Egyptian-American, the revolution had a profound effect on my family and me.” El Gamal said. “And I was thrilled to play an Arab man who’s not associated with violence and hate. I felt a responsibility to properly represent the incredible people who finally got a voice during those 18 days in Tahrir Square.”

That responsibility lead El Gamal to collaborate with Sorkin on some of the character details.

“My character originally had a Swahili name, which didn’t make much sense for an Egyptian.” El Gamal said. “I was terrified to bring it up -- Aaron Sorkin being as brilliant as he is -- but I felt I owed it to the brave Egyptians whose story we were telling.”

Sorkin was open to the change and asked El Gamal to email him a list of common Egyptian names. Just two days before shooting, El Gamal was Fed-Exed new pages with a new, more accurate name.

“I hope my episode reaches some brown kid with a similarly weird name, who’s struggling with his or her identity, like I was.” El Gamal said. “And I hope it empowers him or her to be the best they can be.”


Amin El Gamal is an actor who was born (during an earthquake) and raised in Palo Alto, CA. Amin is a first generation Egyptian-American (his last name means “The Camel” in Arabic) and a graduate Stanford University (Class of '08). Within months of completing USC’s MFA in Acting program, he caught Aaron Sorkin’s eye and landed a guest role on HBO’s The Newsroom in an episode named after his character (airing July 22). Amin can also be seen in the upcoming films Take Down the House and Indefinitely, and on stages across the country including the NY Public Theater, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Magic Theatre, and A Noise Within.

Last 'Arabology' Podcast of Season 2 (aired June 7) Available Already

The 4-hour Season Finale showcases this past season's best Arabic alternative music along with commentary by DJ Ramzi plus a reading by Ahmad Qousi of Marianne Nsour's hilarious poem 'Englabic' (see poem below).

To download this Podcast (in four 1-hour segments): 

Inline image 1
DJ Ramzi (right) with Ahmad Q at KZSU Stanford 90.1 FM (June 2012)

To listen to Part 1 Click HERE (See Playlist below)

To listen to Part 1 Click HERE (See Playlist below)

To listen to Part 1 Click HERE (See Playlist below)

To listen to Part 1 Click HERE (See Playlist below)

To read 'Englabic' (Poem by Marianne Nsour read by Ahmad Qousi on the show) click HERE

Playlist for Arabology DJ: Ramzi S.Thu, 7 Jun 2012 / 1300-1700 (Artist/Track/Album/Label)

PART 1 (Listen at http://tinyurl.com/arabologyfinale1)
Dam/Mukadime (Introduction)/ Ihda' (Dedication)/ Redcircle Music
Adonis/ Ma Kan Mafroud/ Daw L Baladiyyi/ Forward Music
Diab, Amr / 'aref Habibi (You Know My Love) Banadeek Ta'ala (I'm Calling You, Come)/ Laser
Dudley, Anne and Coleman, Jaz/ Habebe/ Songs From the Victorious City/ Tvt Records
Elhellani, Assi/ Natalie/ Single/ Rotana
Maraka, Aziz/ Bent Ennas/ Master Copy/ eka3
Samaha, Carole/ Wet3awadet/ Wet3awadet/ Rotana
Rouhana, Charbel & The Beirut Oriental Ensemble/ Al-Bint Al-Shalabiyya/ Shughl Bayt/ Forward Music
Cheba Djenet/ Kedab (Liar)/ Jalouse/ Sunhouse Records
Club D'elf/ Overture/ Electric Moroccoland/ Face Pelt Records
Cosmic Analog Ensemble/ Jeita (Upper Cave)/ The Mundane and the Cosmic/ Hisstology records 2009

PART 2 (Listen at http://tinyurl.com/arabologyfinale2)
Baladi, Dany/ Ya Jarata/ Single/ Lebaneseunderground
Dalida/ Helwa Ya Baladi/ Paroles D'Ailleurs/ Orlando
Hamze, Darine/ Ya Zahratan Fi Khayali/ Beirut Hotel (Soundtrack)/ Lfp Les Films Pelléas
Hamze, Darine/ Ahwak/ Beirut Hotel (Soundtrack)/ Lfp Les Films Pelléas
Abbas, Edd/ Mafareq/ El Moutarakam/ h2zRap
Ayoub, Elizabeth/ Habibi/ Oceanos Y Lunas/ Four Quarters Entertainment
Mathlouthi, Emel/ Ma Lkit (Not Found)/ Kelmti Horra/ World Village
Fayrouz/ Eh, Fi Amal/ Eh, Fi Amal (Yes, There Is Hope)/ Fbe
Nasr, May/ Zgheira Chinit (Original by Seta Hagopian)/ (2010)/ RAM May Nasr
Massy, Mike/ Jazr W Mad/ Ya Zaman/ Falak Productions
Issa Ghandour/ Salma Ya Salama(sayyed darwish)/ Darwish/ Forward Music

PART 3 (Listen at http://tinyurl.com/arabologyfinale3)
Nsour, Marianne/ Englabic (Poem read by Ahmad Qousi)/ Arabology/ KZSU
Jadal/ Al-tobah/ Arabic Rocks/ Forward Music
Labaki, Nadine/ Hashishet albi/ Where Do We Go Now?(Soundtrack)/ Sony
Mouzanar (ft. Tania Saleh)/ kifou Hal Helou/ Et maintenant on va ou (soundtrack)/ naïve
Joubran Trio/ Dawwâr El Shams (Circle Of The Sun)/ Asfar/ Harmonia Mundi France
Chamamyan, Lena/ Ya Mayela Al-Ghosoun/ The Collection/ Forward Music
Boniche, Lili/ Bambino/ Impressions of the Ori/ (Unknown)
El Husseini, Mahmoud/ Segara Bonny/ Beirut Hotel (Soundtrack)/ Lfp Les Films Pelléas
Zahair, Mido/ Islahat/ Beirut Hotel (Soundtrack)/ Lfp Les Films Pelléas

PART4 (Listen at http://tinyurl.com/arabologyfinale4)
Mashrou' Leila/ Inni Mneeh/ El Hal Romancy/ Mashrou' Leila
Ajram, Nancy/ Sallim 'alayha (Greet Her)/ Sahret Tarab (A Night Of Ecstacy)/ New Sound
Atlas, Natacha/ Taalet (Zab Spencer Remix)/ Mounqaliba Rising: The Remixes/ Six Degrees Records
Offendum, Omar/ Finjan/ Syrianamericana/ Cosher Ink, Llc
Hamdan, Yasmine/ In Kan Fouadi/ Yasmine Hamdan/ Kuwaidan
Rousan, Yazan And Autostrad/ 'ayyat Fi 'l-Matar (Sing In The Rain)/ Autostrad/ Planet Records
Saba, Youmna/ Tehfe/ Ruptured Sessions/ Lebanese Underground
Zeid and the Wings/ Asfe (Live)/ Zeid Hamdan/ Live in Italy/ Unreleased
Hamdan, Zeid/ La Repetition/ Beirut Hotel (Soundtrack)/ Lfp Les Films Pelléas
El Ahmadie, Ziad/ Organised Chaos/ Silent Wave/ Forward Music
Alhaj, Rahim/ Sailors Three/ Little Earth/ Ur Records
Massi, Souad/ Khabar Kana/ O Houria/ Indie Europe/Zoom

French Interview with Yasmine Hamdan in 'Stiletto'


Elle sortait il y a trois ans un album, en duo avec Mirwaïs, sous le nom Y.A.S. Auteur, compositeur et interprète, originaire de Beyrouth, Yasmine Hamdan défend aujourd’hui un projet en solo, qui porte son nom, portée par sa voix vibrante, presque liquide. Un voyage dans l’Orient des années cinquante et soixante, celui des grandes productions, enregistrées à Beyrouth, au Caire, en Irak ou au Koweit. Des titres qu’elle a dénichés dans sa propre collection de disques oubliés, des mélodies dont elle s’empare, qu’elle répète et qu’elle étire jusqu’à en obtenir quelque chose de parfaitement moderne. Entretien.

Comment est né ce projet?
J'avais déjà commencé à travailler sur certaines chansons pendant que je faisais la promo pour mon album précédent, Y.A.S. J'avais envie de revenir vers quelque chose de plus acoustique, de travailler sur des morceaux où la voix serait au centre, avec de fortes mélodies et des chœurs. J'ai passé 3 mois aux Etats Unis l'année dernière, avec des musiciens et musiciennes, j'en suis revenue avec pleins d'envies. Cela m'a beaucoup ouvert les oreilles.

Dans quelle mesure cet album est-il plus personnel que le précédent?
J'ai suivi mes intuitions. Marc Collin (avec qui j'ai fait cet album) avait la sensibilité, le talent et la réceptivité nécessaire pour m'aider à pousser dans les directions que je proposais. Je travaille de manière assez «bordélique», mais en même temps très libre. Je sais ce que je n'aime pas d'abord. Je découvre ensuite, en tâtonnant et en collaborant, là où le morceau a naturellement besoin d'aller. J'ai voulu dans cet album mettre en avant les mélodies, avoir une musique au service de la voix. Marc a un vrai talent pour assimiler les envies des artistes tout en restant extrêmement créatif et ouvert au dialogue. Il a une grande curiosité musicale, il est épanoui dans ce qu'il fait et cela est très inspirant. Nous avons essayé des choses, nous n'avions aucune contrainte (de single, de formatage). Nous savions aussi que ce que nous faisions ne ressemblait à rien : nous étions donc assez libres au final.

Comment vous êtes-vous emparé de ces morceaux traditionnels, d’Omar El Zenne, d’Aisha El Marta? S’agit-il de reprises? de souvenirs?
Certaines de ces chansons sont des souvenirs d'enfance, surtout les chansons koweitiennes. Quand je les ai retrouvées sur internet, j'ai senti que j'étais tombée sur une mine d'or. Je collectionne depuis des années des vieux morceaux arabes, je m'intéresse à tous les genres ou styles musicaux de la région. Je suis régulièrement en recherche, cela me nourrit. J'adore dénicher des artistes ou des chansons peu connus, oubliés, politiques, érotiques, de l'époque…
Ensuite, je choisis certaines chansons quand je sens qu'elles peuvent m'appartenir. Je les kidnappe en quelque sorte. Je me donne la liberté de les ancrer dans le contexte actuel, mon présent, mes envies, mes influences musicales. Je les transforme, change les structures, retravaille parfois les mélodies. Ce sont souvent des morceaux traditionnels, donc dans le domaine public. En fait, j'ai peut être un peu un rôle de "passeur", je ramène les chansons du passé à un présent, je le fais avec respect tout en exerçant ma liberté d'artiste.

Si vous deviez exprimer votre émotion du moment par une musique?
En ce moment j'écoute Lee Hazelwood, Barbara, Brassens, et certaines radios indies sur le net.

Le morceau qui vous rappelle votre enfance à Beyrouth?
J'ai toujours eu un rapport à la fois d'étrangeté et de familiarité avec ma ville natale et mon pays. J'ai grandi un peu partout. Mais la voix de Feyrouz a représenté pour moi comme un symbole identitaire. Comme pour beaucoup de gens en exil, elle a assuré un lien, une douceur, une fragilité, une humanité qui faisait chaud au cœur et faisait oublier les atrocités de la guerre. Je pense avoir ressentie ma première émotion musicale en écoutant sa voix, quand ma mère me parlait de son/mon pays que je connaissais peu à ce moment-là.

L’album Yasmine Hamdan, déjà disponible en digital, sort physiquement le 7 mai 2012. Produit par Marc Collin (Kwaidan)

Le 24 Avr 2012, par Karine Porret

Arabic Version of Dalida's 'Bambino' by Lili Boniche

Lili Boniche (Élie Boniche - b. 1921 - d. March 6, 2008) was born to a Sephardic Jewish family in the Kasbah area of Algiers and was a singer of Andalusian-Arab music. He died in Paris. In addition to writing music for commercial release, he also was a film composer.

His version of the song Bambino--memorably recorded by the late Dalida in French and Italian back in the 1950's--is a gem of a song that can be found on Boniche's 2001 album Tresors de la Chanson Judee-Arabe. Its Arabic lyrics are faithful to the original and retain the playful nature of the song.

Here is Dalida's 1957 version in French:

Here is Dalida's later version in French (live):

Here is another version of Dalida singing 'Bambino' with a nice montage/original footage from various shows:

Finally, here is a re-worded version of 'Bambino' performed by Dalida and Enrico Masias on French TV. Note the way the two performers greet each other in Egyptian Arabic: