Vocalist, daf player and experimentalist Dina El Wedidi was born on October 1, 1987 in Giza, Egypt.
She performed traditional Egyptian folk music with the Warsha Theater Troupe and Habaybena band. Grounded in these roots, she produces music that is familiar and relevant for Egyptians, but at the same time incorporates other musical forms. Her participation in these projects unavoidably led her to write her own music, and in 2011, she took the essential next step in her career and formed her own band. From there, her success has soared, not only gaining her stardom in Egypt, but a fan base internationally.
Beginning in 2012, Dina joined The Nile Project. Her experience collaborating with musicians from 11 East African countries introduced her to a larger musical world, and since then she has incorporated elements of these cultures, specifically Ethiopian, into her music. She is featured on the first two Nile Project albums, Aswan (2013) and Jinja (2014).
That same year, she was chosen by Gilberto Gil and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative as a protégé. In 2014, Dina released her debut album Turning Back (Tedawar W’Tergaa), which she described as New Arab Folk.
On Turning Back, Dina El Wedidi uses the iarghul, a rare reed instrument from Upper Egypt that El Wedidi learned to play.
Over the past years, Dina has followed a very different artistic track, symbolically and literally, drifting from the music that earned her success. Fundamentally, this meant exploring the world of music production to increase her skills outside of singing and songwriting. This route also introduced another new, and even less common instrument to Dina: trains.
Her album Slumber features the collected sounds of railways, train stations, train whistles and rails in Egypt. She processed these sounds electronically, creating a dream-like and beautiful sound landscape around her own voice, at times like a symphony, taking the listener on a journey that passes seven stations. The title “Slumber” refers to her vision of this listening experience as a dream.
She recorded Manam, an experimental electronic album, produced from layers of processed train sounds, over which she sings. The result is a 30-minute voyage, a short nap crossing seven stations, in which Dina tells hallucinatory stories.
“I believe I have the freedom to talk about anything in my music,” said El Wedidi. “When I want to sing about something, I do. The reality is that ‘the street’ talks about many things, and I’m inspired by the people on the street.”
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.