Arabology 13.2 Podcast Highlights Shubbak Festival 2019, Ft Interviews with Bu Kolthoum, Khansa, Juliana Yazbeck

Listen at https://soundcloud.com/arabology/shubbak

Dr. Ramzi Salti's latest Arabology program (June 2019)  highlights the upcoming Shubbak Festival in England (June 28-July 14) by featuring interviews with Bu Kolthoum (17:59), Khansa (37:05), and Juliana Yazbeck (59:01)--all of whom will be performing at the Festival.
This episode also features an interview with MARSM's Christina Hazboun (8:56) who talks to us about the venue.  More info and/or tickets at marsm.co.uk or www.shubbak.co.uk

LISTEN TO PODCAST BELOW OR AT https://soundcloud.com/arabology/shubbak


Shubbak (meaning ‘window’ in Arabic) is London’s largest biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture. Shubbak has become a key moment in the arts calendar of the UK and the Arab World, bringing new and unexpected voices alongside established artists to new audiences every two years. This year’s festival takes place in London from 28 June–14 July 2019. Tickets are on sale now at marsm.co.uk or www.shubbak.co.uk




MORE INFO ABOUT EVENTS AT THIS YEAR's SHUBBAK FESTIVAL


The Trace of The Butterfly
Tribute to Legend Rim Banna (1966 - 2018)

 

A pivotal and influential figure in the contemporary Palestinian music scene, Rim Banna’s life was tragically cut short in March 2018 after a ten year struggle with breast cancer. She left behind a rich legacy of 12 albums, made of her own compositions and the careful assembling of traditional songs, children’s lullabies and works of Palestinian poets. Her last work was materialised as a tapestry of voice and music over visual materials from her x-ray scans. Now - a unique commemoration concert debuts at the Barbican by some of her closest musical peers: Tania Saleh (Lebanon) Faraj Suleiman (Palestine), Bu Kolthoum (Syria) and Sabrine Janhani (Tunis).


Date: Tuesday 9th July 2019
Where: Barbican Hall
Time: 8-10:30 pm
Infos & Tickets
          Barbican / Shubbak 
About the Project:

This project was conceived by MARSM in conjunction with Shubbak Festival in an attempt to commemorate the works of Rim Banna and spread knowledge and awareness of her legacy within the Palestinian cultural and musical heritage. The project, which was made possible by the generous efforts of partners and funders brings together an elite of musicians who worked and collaborated with Rim Banna throughout her lifetime. Inspired by Rim’s life and works, they have created a treasure of music reflecting on those experiences. 

About the Artists:

Rim Banna Listen/ Watch/ Read/ Facebook  

Rim was born and raised in Nazareth and studied music professionally in Moscow. She was one of the first musicians to document children’s music and lullabies taking them from the confines of closed rooms to the outside world in 3 albums. She also wove the poetry of giants such as Mahmoud Darwish, Tawfiq Zayyad and Samih El-Qasem into her songs, blending pop, poetry and traditional Arabic sounds, Rim Banna became a voice for peace and equality, collaborating with the likes of jazz pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, Norwegian choir Skruk and Arabic electronica collective Checkpoint 303. Her last album “Voices of Resistance” was a conceptual piece of art uniting her spirit of resistance, poetry and medical scans with Checkpoint 303’s electronic beats and Bugge Wesseltoft’s edgy piano improvisations.

Tania Saleh Listen/ Watch/ Read/ Facebook  
Tania Saleh is a contemporary alternative Lebanese singer/songwriter/visual artist. Her lyrics mirror the reality of the Lebanese/Arab social and political turmoil. Since her early debut in 1990, she has experimented with various genres, always challenging herself to explore new styles. Her collaborations are very eclectic: Ziad Rahbany, Toufic Farroukh, Issam Hajali, Charbel Rouhana, Ibrahim Maalouf, Rayess Bek, Khaled Mouzannar, RZA, Nile Rodgers, Charlotte Caffey, Tarek El Nasser, Natasha Atlas and more. 

Tania Saleh created a special mural to commemorate Rim Banna and produced a video with music of the whole process. The video can be viewed here.

Faraj Suleiman Listen/ Watch/ Read/ Facebook  

One of the most promising musicians of the Arab world, Suleiman is a Palestinian composer and pianist whose music is strongly influenced by Arabic/Eastern melodies and rhythms. He often incorporates those scales and modalities in his compositions. In addition to being inspired by his Arabic culture, he is also influenced by Tango and Jazz traditions. 

Bu Kolthoum Listen/ Watch/ Read/ Facebook

Born in Damascus to a family of sufi background, Bu Kolthoum is a rapper, music producer, and film director who has been revolutionizing political rap in the Middle East. His 2017 album Bo’Bo’ was completely produced, mixed, and mastered by him. His sound can easily be distinguished amongst other Middle Eastern rappers because of the old-school sound accompanied by tearing bass-lines.

Sabrine Jenhani Listen/ Watch/ Read/ Facebook

Originally a fine artist and painter, Sabrine graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Tunis, but discovered early on her passion for singing and writing. She started off as a singer in rock to move onto jazz singing at famous clubs in Tunis. She imbibed her inspiration from her work in the Tunisian capital while slowly exploring the underground scene there. She went on to become an icon of music through her first project in the group YUMA. Sabrine today composes her own music and writes her lyrics and is working on her latest project named "ZAY" which she released in January 2019.

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Essay about the Music of the Arab Spring by Kristina Abyad

This essay was written by Kristina Abyad, a Junior at the Orange County School of the Arts, for her  AP Language and Composition class in 2019.  Published here with her permission.

How Music Contributed to the Arab Spring

By Kristina Abyad

Beginning in the spring of 2010 and ending approximately one year later, the Arab Spring was a series of political revolts clustered among the nations of the Middle East and North Africa. These revolts were organized and enacted by Arab citizens who were protesting against their corrupt governments and leaders of a multitude of countries throughout the region. Although these titular events officially began in Tunisia, North Africa, political unrest had already been present for many years prior. Governmental corruption, censorship of free speech, and suppression of human rights encouraged Middle Eastern citizens to rise up against their inhumane leaders, and music was the medium through which they were encouraged and emboldened to finally take action.

Tunisia specifically commenced the chain reaction of revolutions with one of its own: the Tunisian Revolution. Beginning on December 18, 2010, this series of events drew in a wide and appalled audience from around the world because of its first contender, Mohamed Bouazizi. A 26-year-old Tunisian street fruit vendor with a family of eight, Bouazizi was confronted by government officials who subsequently took away his unlicensed cart, fined him, and physically assaulted him. Wanting justice for the harassment and humiliation he had encountered at the hands of the government, he “complained to the local municipality officials, but his request was denied” (Karthikeyan). In order to get his message of utter frustration with the government across, his manifestation of protest consisted of self-immolation for all of the world to see (Skalli). His actions consequently sparked a nation-wide movement to overthrow the corrupt Tunisian leader at the time, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in an action that was deemed the “Jasmine Revolution” by many local and international news organizations at the time. Months after his overthrow, Ali and his wife “were found guilty in absentia by a Tunisian court for embezzlement and misuse of public funds. They were then sentenced to 35 years in prison” (“Profile: Zine”). His dethroning as a result of citizen revolts and protests inspired successive dissent in other Middle Eastern countries, most notably in Egypt, Yemen, and Libya.

One of the leading contributors to the start of the Arab Spring throughout the region was Arabic political music. This style of song came in a variety of musical forms, such as hip hop, rap, and pop, and was centered on lyrics that called out the corrupt Middle Eastern leaders and dictators for their egregious actions. The widespread popularity of these songs became a significant medium through which the events of the Arab Spring were shared with the world. One of the most prominent figures of the Arab Spring was a Tunisian rapper named Hamada Ben Amor, a man better known as El General. His famed song “Rais Lebled (President of the Country)” quickly gained traction, as it desperately implored President Ali to focus his attention on the suffering youth in Tunisia (Salti). Although Tunisian rapper El General certainly did not begin the Tunisian Revolution, his music played a major role in inspiring the people of Tunisia to revolt. His choice to speak freely about the government in this song led to him being detained and questioned by Tunisian authorities for three full days (Hebblethwaite). He bravely and blatantly spoke of the corruption and poverty that was rampant in the nation. After only a few days after its release on YouTube along with a simple video, it had gone viral and was omnipresent on the lips of every Tunisian citizen for months. The popularity of politically-charged music in the Middle East during the time of the Arab Spring was able to bring to the attention of other nations just how dire the situations were in the MENA region. When the news was ignored, their voices were heard.

Music was similarly used as a way to mobilize and empower Arab citizens throughout the course of the Arab Spring. Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi wrote a wide array of political anthems for Tunisia during this period of time that gained traction beyond just the MENA world. She was invited to perform one of her most popular ones, “Kelmti Horra (My Word Is Free)” at the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway (Curiel). Like the majority of her songs, this political anthem was sung in Arabic and accompanied with Middle Eastern instrumentals, celebrating her nation’s culture and history. In her performance, Mathlouthi chose not to put translations up for the audience; she just wanted them to listen. Although her music was barred from playing in her home country, Mathlouthi was still able to communicate with her people through her music via social media. Tunisia attempted to ban her music as a result of the lyrics in her songs, but she prevailed in spreading the word to her country’s people and inspiring them to protest against their unjust government.

Outside of Tunisia, political strife was likewise brewing. Egyptian singer Ramy Essam turned popular anti-government chants, yelled out by his fellow Egyptians during protests, into the form of song. One in particular was called “Irhal (Leave),” which was about the then-President Hosni Mubarak (Inskeep). Mubarak had succeeded the last Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, after his assassination by Islamic extremists. This had occurred directly after Sadat had signed a peace treaty with Israel, angering pro-Palestinians across the nation. Thus, Mubarak was elected in a time of chaos, and he felt pressured to legitimize his presidency in any way he could; often, this was via the Egyptian Army. He arrested Islamists unabashedly, but released secular prisoners that Sadat had previously jailed (Kenyon). As a result of his extreme, anti-Islamic actions and rhetoric, the vast majority of Egyptians wanted Mubarak gone.

Essam then performed “Irhal” in Tahrir Square, Cairo, and his voice was accompanied by thousands of other impassioned Egyptians. Many of them recorded his performance and posted it to YouTube, and the rest became history. Essam was, and often still is, considered to be the voice of the Egyptian Revolution. Because of the actions of Essam and other Egyptian citizens in the process of an eighteen-day revolt against the government, Mubarak, who had ruled since 1981 (during close to five, six-year terms in total), was forced out of his position of power (Knell). Just like the overthrow of Tunisian President Ali, there was not a single drop of blood shed; change was enacted just by the sheer will and determination of the Egyptian people.

As a result of all of the change that had been incited by political Arabic music throughout the Arab Spring, short-term change was finally enacted within many countries across the MENA region. For one, it was now apparent to Middle Eastern leaders and dictators alike that, like Tunisian President Ali and Egyptian President Mubarak, they could be overthrown by the unadulterated perseverance and anger of their people; no military coup was required. All across MENA, citizens were inspired to fight for their rights, and “by the end of 2011, the governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen were swept away by popular revolts in an unprecedented show of people power” (Manfreda). Tunisia arguably benefitted the most from the Arab Spring: “it adopted a new modernist constitution and held parliamentary elections in 2014. Thus, it’s no surprise that The Economist designated Tunisia as the 2014 Country of the Year” (Karthikeyan). However, in the long run, many consider Tunisia to be the only true success story of the Arab Spring.

Despite these short-lived apparent successes, failure still loomed on the horizon. In Egypt, even though ex-President Mubarak had been forcibly ousted from his position, the current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is arguably much worse. Not only does the military have a tendency to play an over-inflated role in daily citizen life, but with his vehement “repression of students, journalists, activists, and foreigners, [...] Sisi’s Egypt is not that different from the Egypt of earlier eras,” inclining many to argue that the Arab Spring did little to change the lives of Egyptians, despite its best effort (Cook). Mubarak and his corruption may be gone, but Sisi has failed to continue the change that the platform of the Arab Spring had aimed to enact.

In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced out of his regime after having controlled the nation for over thirty years. Many Yemeni citizens had expected that following his departure, democracy would ensue; however, this was not the case. “Instead[,] an armed uprising and foreign military intervention began a spiral into a brutal, often forgotten, civil war” (Graham-Harrison). The country also endured the worst cholera outbreak in history, starting in 2016 and still continuing today, leading to numerous deaths and extreme famine. Thousands have also been slaughtered by bombs and mines, including a group of young students who were killed after being hit with a missile (Graham-Harrison). Democracy has yet to come to Yemen, and it seems it is still too ludicrous a dream.

In a similarly-dire situation resides Libya. Unlike the aforementioned peaceful and non-violent revolts, the Libyan ex-President Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown, ruthlessly murdered, and his body propped on display (Graham-Harrison). The dissident rebels who had so passionately attacked him then turned to attack one another, splitting up the country even further. Gangs in the nation still hold public slave auctions to this day, and the government makes no real attempt to reduce violent crime. The overthrow of Gaddafi served as a minor stepping stone to the path of freedom and democracy, but these goals became wholly unattainable once the now-President Khalifa Haftar came into power. The country is now still engaging in the Second Libyan Civil War as of 2014, and its military officer president possesses no plans to end it any time soon.

Overall, although these revolts failed to enact any long-standing changes in most of the countries within the MENA region, the way in which these countries were able to use their political music to encourage their citizens to fight for their rights and for what they believed in established the noteworthy position of the events of the Arab Spring in world history. It thoroughly served its purpose of challenging the previously-established ways of the past and helped to usher in new leaders, some of whom were more favorable and successful than others. Regardless of its impact, Arabic political music was the beacon for governmental and social change, encouraging Arab citizens to fight for what is right no matter who disagrees.

This essay was written by Kristina Abyad, a Junior at the Orange County School of the Arts, for her  AP Language and Composition class in 2019.  Published here with her permission.

Works Cited

Cook, Steven A. “Sisi Isn't Mubarak. He's Much Worse.” Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, 19

Dec. 2018.

Curiel, Jonathan. “Beyond 'Protest Music' in the Arab World... and Beyond.” KQED, 13 Dec.

2016.

Graham-Harrison, Emma. “Beyond Syria: the Arab Spring's Aftermath.” The Guardian,

Guardian News and Media, 30 Dec. 2018,

Hebblethwaite, Cordelia. “Is Hip Hop Driving the Arab Spring?” BBC, BBC News, 24 July.

2011.

Inskeep, Steve. “Ramy Essam: The Singer Of The Egyptian Revolution.” NPR, 15 Mar. 2011.

Karthikeyan, Badri. “Arab Spring Brings Success, Failures.” The Triangle, 27 Feb. 2015.

Kenyon, Peter. “Egypt's Mubarak: A Cautious, Heavy-Handed Ruler.” NPR, NPR, 11 Feb. 2011.

Knell, Yolande. “The Complicated Legacy of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.” BBC, BBC News, 25

Jan. 2013.

Manfreda, Primoz. “6 Ways Arab Spring Impacted the Middle East.” ThoughtCo, 26 June 2018.

“Profile: Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali.” BBC News, BBC, 20 June 2011.

Salti, Ramzi. Islamic Voices: Music of the Arab Spring, Stanford Live, 20 Sept. 2016.

Skalli, Loubna Hanna. “Youth, Media and the Art of Protest in North Africa.” Jadaliyya.

Stanford Students of Arabic Perform Fairuz Song On Stage

Watch video below or at https://youtu.be/f76AgFDYTyg
At least a dozen students from Dr. Ramzi's Salti's Beginning Arabic course at Stanford thrilled the crowds on February 21, 2019 by performing Fairuz's "Nassam Alayna Al Hawa" for International Mother Language Day--an event that was organized by the Stanford Language Center and which included various performances by students in different languages.  The video below (filmed with student permission) includes segments from the rehearsal sessions ft Matt Wright and Chris Stock (no students were filmed in this part) and a clip from the actual performance (participating students have kindly agreed to be recorded).

Special thanks to members of the Stanford Middle East Ensemble for making this performance possible.

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW OR AT https://youtu.be/f76AgFDYTyg

Watch video from rehearsals : 0:00-2:55 or skip to Performance by clicking here > 2:56-10:23




Arabology 13.1 Podcast (May 2019) Available

Listen at https://soundcloud.com/arabology/a131
Stanford Lecturer/Arabology Radio Host Dr. Ramzi Salti was joined by DJ Salah in presenting new indie/alternative Arabic music for the premiere of the 13th Season of Arabology--which airs on KZSU 90.1 FM (Stanford University).  The show aired on May 2. 2019 and the podcast is now available below or at https://soundcloud.com/arabology/a131


The show featured indie/alternative Arabic music (with commentary in English) and included a segment about Sudanese music and a tribute to singer Rim Banna who passed away last year.

FEATURED ARTISTS ON ARABOLOGY 13.1 (MAY 2, 2019):
This episode showcases songs by Lebanese group Nachaz, Hana Malhas, Nur Alf, Yusor Hamed, Jowan Safadi, DAM, Basel Zayed, The Synaptik, Rootes, Al Raseef. Also features Fairuz remixes by Weela, DJ Sotusura and a tribute to Rim Banna (with new remix). Show also includes spotlight on Sudan through the music by Nawawe and Aziza Brahim.

Special thanks to DJ Salah for co-hosting this episode.

DJ Ramzi (left) with DJ Salah (right)





Arabology Interviews Michael Malek Najjar, Director of "Scenes from 71* Years"

Listen at https://soundcloud.com/arabology/maleknajjar
Stanford Lecturer/Arabology Radio Host Dr. Ramzi Salti interviews Michael Malek Najjar, Director of Hannah Khalil's play "Scenes from 71* Years"--playing in San Francisco from April 5-May 5, 2018.  Interview was recorded by Skype on April 6, 2019.



For info, tickets, go to www.goldenthread.org

MICHAEL MALEK NAJJAR (Ph.D., UCLA; M.F.A., York University; B.A., University of New Mexico) is an associate professor of Theatre Arts with the University of Oregon. He is the author of Arab American Drama, Film and Performance, 1908 to the Present: A Critical Study and the editor of Four Arab American Plays: Works by Leila Buck, Jamil Khoury, Yussef El Guindi, and Lameece Issaq & Jacob Kader (McFarland) and The Selected Works of Yussef El Guindi (Bloomsbury). He founded Riverside Repertory Theatre (now Tricklock Company) in Albuquerque, NM and is an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Directors Lab West, The Rawi Screenwriters Lab (Jordan), and British/American Drama Academy. He directed the world premiere of Precious Stones by Jamil Khoury, and has also directed many other Middle Eastern American plays including Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad, 9 Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo, Ecstasy: A Water Fable by Denmo Ibrahim, and When Farah Cries with Golden Thread Productions. He is currently serving on the editorial board of Arab Stages. He co-curated, and was lead director for, Semitic Commonwealth: A Staged Reading Series Comprised of Six Plays by Arab and Jewish Playwrights Exploring the Human Toll of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict at Silk Road Rising, and he is currently co-editing a volume of the plays from that series for McFarland. He is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and has been recognized for meritorious achievement for directing by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

الدكتور رمزي سلطي يتحدث عن برنامجه الاذاعي الامريكي عربولوجي باللغة العربية Dr. Ramzi Salti Talks about His Arabology Program in Arabic

https://youtu.be/vpSCXqavnrE

يمكنكم الآن مشاهدة هذا الحوار بين الدكتور رمزي سلطي ورامه شققي حول برنامجه عربولوجي الذي يُبث عبر اذاعة جامعة ستانفورد في الولايات المتحدة الامريكية وذلك عبر الرابط التالي.

رامه شققي هي رائدة أعمال سورية، أسست العديد من المشاريع لدعم الشباب في الشرق الأوسط للحصول على تعليم ومستقبل أفضل
.


Dr. Ramzi Salti speaks about his Arabology radio show/podcast (in Arabic) as part of the “Digital Media Entrepreneurship Program” run by the VIP.fund in collaboration with Syria Revival Initiative. By special invitation from Rama Chakaki, Founder & Executive Director of the VIP.fund https://vip.fund


Audio only also available below or at at https://soundcloud.com/arabology/vipfund

Video Highlights from Actor Kamel El Basha's Stanford Visit (February 2019)

Watch video at https://youtu.be/nPpCki2ciVA

I just made this video featuring highlights from actor Kamel El Basha's visit to Stanford last month where he spoke about his career + starring role in the Oscar nominated Lebanese film The Insult - قضية رقم ٢٣.  Video includes guest appearances by Zeid Hamdan, Zalfa Rustom and Dr. Touria Boumehdi.

You can watch the video below or at https://youtu.be/nPpCki2ciVA



Kamel El Basha or Kamel el-Bacha (in Arabic كامل الباشا) (born in Jerusalem on 14 March 1962) is a Palestinian theater actor and director and film actor who won the 2017 Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 74th Venice International Film Festival for his role as Yasser Abdallah Salameh in The Insult (also known in Arabic: قضية رقم ٢٣‎, translit. Qadiyya raqm 23, lit. 'Case No. 23') by Lebanese film director Ziad Doueiri.

Kamel El Basha wins Best Actor at Venice Film Festival (2017)

You can also listen to Dr. Ramzi Salti's full radio interview with Kamel El Basha below or at https://soundcloud.com/arabology/kamelelbasha


PHOTOS FROM KAMEL EL BASHA'S STANFORD VISIT (FEB 2019):











Watch video below or at  at https://youtu.be/nPpCki2ciVA



Video Highlights: Zeid Hamdan at Stanford University (Feb 2019)

Watch full video at https://youtu.be/lQ6IyxZnH2M

This video includes 48 minutes of highlights from Lebanese musician Zeid Hamdan's visit to Stanford University on Feb 19, 2019 where he gave two lectures--one in English, one in Arabic--performed live, and visited KZSU 90.1 FM where he was interviewed by Dr. Ramzi Salti for his Arabology radio show. All video clips/music in this visit are for Educational Purposes only.

You can watch the video below or at https://youtu.be/lQ6IyxZnH2M



You can also listen to Dr. Ramzi Salti's radio interview with Zeid Hamdan,below or at this link: https://soundcloud.com/arabology/zeidhamdan



PHOTOS FROM ZEID HAMDAN'S STANFORD VISIT:










Watch full video below or at https://youtu.be/lQ6IyxZnH2M