While I’m at WOMAD this weekend, one performance in London I’m really sorry to miss is that of Palestinian singer Reem Kelani. She’s a dramatic, energetic and fiery performer on stage. She’ll be performing some songs from her excellent album Sprinting Gazelle and from her forthcoming Sayyid Darwish project on which she’s been working for many years.
Darwish (1892-1923), writing many of his songs during World War I, was a hugely important cultural figure in Egypt’s independence movement. And Kelani was in Cairo’s Tahrir Square singing Darwish songs during the heady days of the revolution in 2011 -–there’s a link to a Radio 4 programme about those here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b019fxjf
One of her new songs, ‘My Heart Belongs to my Homeland’, has words by Palestinian poet Ibrahim Touqan (1905-1941). “It represents a brave critique of the divisions within the Palestinian leadership,” at that time, says Kelani. He also wrote ‘Mawtini’ (My Homeland), expressing a sense of Palestinian national identity predating the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. As the continuing tragedy of the Palestinian people is on the television every day, Kelani says “while the focus in the news is death and destruction, we should remember and celebrate the culture of the Palestinian people.”
Reem Kelani and her band play at Rich Mix on Friday July 25, visit www.richmix.org.uk for more details