I spent a part of my day working through this list of Mideast Tunes' Top 20 Indie Artists of 2014.
Curious, I visited their About: Our mission is to bridge barriers of faith and geography to unite people committed to fostering constructive discourse in the region through music. The core of the project manifested from our desire to promote bands and musicians that would otherwise never be given a second glance in the international scene. We feel that is because most people would never think to look to regions like the Middle East and North Africa for highly thought provoking music. The need to change that is our driving force.
We believe music can change the world and that the musicians of the Middle East and North Africa will lead the way.
Founded in 2010 in Bahrain, the site has expanded to serve as a primary resource for discovering up and coming Middle Eastern talents.
Two clear favourites emerged as I wandered through. Youssra El Hawary
, from Egypt and Mo Zowaye
d, from Bahrain. But there are so many others ...
I found the following interviewe excerpt on NPR about Youssra and her music.
'For "Al Soor," Hawary borrowed the lyrics from one of her friends, the political cartoonist and author Waleed Taher: "In front of the wall/In front of those who built it/In front of those who made it high/Stood a poor man/Who peed/On the wall, and on those who built it and those who made it high." (Needless to say, a "good girl" doesn't sing about people eliminating — but Hawary does it with a wink and a smile.)
Taher had published them as part of one of his cartoons years ago, long before the Arab Spring — but Taher's meaning gained new resonance after a huge wall was erected in Cairo on Muhammad Mahmoud Street, which leads on one end to Tahrir Square and on the other towards the Egyptian Ministry of Interior.
So it was natural, if pretty daring, for Hawary to enlist a photographer friend to go shoot a DIY video for "Al Soor" in front of the Muhammad Mahmoud wall, which is now covered regularly with fresh work from a burgeoning group of graffiti artists.
In the video, Hawary is bathed in beautiful breaking morning light; the women shot the video shortly after dawn, mostly in hopes of not having their work shut down. But the giddy happenstances of this shoot done on the sly — the random guy who asks El Hawary to snap his picture, the kids dancing, the caretaker shooing everyone away at the end — just adds to the perfect, easy magic of "Al Soor."