Tag Archives: Palestinian music

Artist Profiles: Marwan Abado

Marwan Abado

Marwan Abado was born a Palestinian refugee in Beirut, Lebanon in 1967. As a child from Christian Palestinians he experienced as a child the fate of living the diaspora.

In 1985 Abado moved to Austria to continue his studies with the Iraqi ud virtuoso Asim Chalabi. In Vienna he found a new home as a musician, singer, composer and poet.

Abado’s instrument, the ud (the Middle Eastern lute) is essential in Arabic music .

Abado’s music has its roots in the classical Arabic music tradition of the taqsim, which is not restricted to particular rhythms, but which springs from the inner impulses of the musician.

On the one hand Abado’s melodies and musical concepts take their power from the deep relatedness to his roots. He is conscious about the rich Arabic tradition which he is musically living not only quoting. Otherwise Abado easily steps across the border between East and West by seeking interaction with European traditions and musicians. This results in Abado’s specific sound: cosmopolitan, borderless music.

Contemporary poetry and prose often provide the inspiration for Abado’s lyrics; thought-provoking commentary on the political realities of the Palestinians is interwoven through his texts.

In 2000 he formed a duo with Peter Rosmanith. Apart from this, his artistic work with musicians like Otto Lechner, Timna Brauer, Roland Neuwirth, Allegre Correa, Krzystof Dobrek, Aliosha Biz, Franz Hautzinger and many other Austrian and international musicians and poets show his artistic openness.

His creative output includes also film and theater music as well as concepts for cultural institutions and lectures about Arabic music.


Nard (2009)
Zugvögel (2010)
Raushana (2012)
Masaar Hubb “Path of Love” (2015)


Artist Profiles: Reem Kelani

Reem Kelani – Photo by Phillip Ryalls


Reem Kelani was born in Manchester, in the UK and brought up in Kuwait. Reem’s father comes from Ya’bad near Jenin and her mother from Nazareth in Galilee. Reem enjoyed early exposure to all sorts of music. She learned the piano and listened to the Jazz standards her father used to sing at home. She studied the Quran as a child and used to hear the calls to prayer about her in Kuwait. Life in the Diaspora also meant that she was exposed to the music of the Arabian Peninsula, Iran East Africa, the Levant and Egypt. It was while at a family wedding in the Galilee that Reem as a child was first taken by Palestinian music.

Reem has been recording and collating folk songs from women in her maternal home of Nazareth, in the refugee camps of Palestine and Lebanon and elsewhere in the Diaspora.

Now considered as one of the foremost researchers and performers of Palestinian music Reem Kelani recorded Sprinting Gazelle – Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora. Some of the songs on the CD are Reem’s research and arrangement of traditional (and some very old) Palestinian songs; the others are her own musical settings of popular and resistance poetry by Mahmoud Darwish, Salma Khadra, Jayyusi Rashid Husain and Mahmoud Salim al-Hout.

Reem’s band includes a Jazz rhythm section comprising Zoe Rahman on piano, Idris Rahman on tenor saxophone clarinet and bass clarinet, Oli Hayhurst on double bass and Patrick Illingworth on drums. Egyptian violinist Samy Bishai and Iranian percussionist Fariborz Kiani complete the line-up.

Other artists on Sprinting Gazelle D include: Armenian duduk player Tigran Aleksanyan (playing the ancient and haunting Palestinian double-clarinet the yarghul); film-composer Dirk Campbell (who lends his string arrangements and nay playing); Salah Dawson Miller (on Arabic percussion); Paul Clarvis (on drums and frame drums) and Sonia Slany with her Solid Strings Quartet.

Reem Kelani sees her project as a means of demonstrating the fact of the Palestinians’ existence now and in the past. She views her musical journey as both historical and political personal and collective. She seeks to point out suffering and to highlight celebration. Her journey is a musical one through the written and oral history of a people who are proud of their collective sense of poetry stories music and existence. This is manifested in the detailed accompanying booklet which includes introductory notes for each song lyrics in Arabic and English and a comprehensive glossary of musical and cultural terms.

Leon Rosselson of Fuse Records offered his advice and his record label. This gave Reem the opportunity to produce the CD herself thus maintaining her musical and cultural integrity and her independence. Raising the necessary funds for the project was by no means easy but with the help of friends, family and supporters the CD was finally made. It took two years in the process and is the culmination of more than 2 years of effort and hope.


Sprinting Gazelle – Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora (2006)

Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle (2016)


Artist Profiles: Le Trio Joubran

Le Trio Joubran

Renowned throughout the Arab world, Le Trio Joubran is led by Palestinian ud virtuoso Samir Joubran. Samir performs in duo or trio lineups with his younger brothers: Wissam Joubran and Adnan Joubran.

Samir and his brothers are the sons of a master luthier, who is the son of a master luthier; a family steeped in the ancient history of the ud, the Arabic lute.

Their mother sang in a Muashahat (a classical Arabic poetry/music form) ensemble and their father is an ud crafter known throughout the Arab world. The brothers were born in the Galilean city of Nazareth in a family with a strong musical tradition.

The three sons perform on uds built by Wissam, who was the first Arabic luthier to graduate from the Stradivarius Institute in Cremona, Italy, where he mastered the construction of violins and uds.

Le Trio Joubran

Le Trio Joubran was born when elder brother Samir listened to the jazz/rock/flamenco guitar trio of Al Di Meola (USA), Paco de Lucia (Spain), and John McLaughlin (UK).

The trio’s first CD together, Randana, was the first meeting of an ud trio. “We wanted to experiment composing for three uds,” says Samir. “It was a challenge and the music was experimental. Through our touring we gained confidence which makes the music on Majaz different. It’s more accessible to a wider public; it’s more clear, transparent, and joyful but with sadness in the background, and yet proud. We introduce percussion in a very subtle way, sensitive and present. Three uds are there with three different personalities, but together.”


Randana (Randana, 2005)
Majaz (Randana, 2007)
À l’ombre des mots (2008)
AsFar, with Dhafer Youssef (2011)
The First Ten Years (2013)


Artist Profiles: Amal Murkus

Amal Murkus

Amal Murkus is a Palestinian singer and actress. A citizen of Israel, she was born and raised in the village of Kufer Yasef in the Galilee, and has devoted her career to promoting Palestinian music and culture in Israel and abroad.

Amal’s music is pioneering, creating a post-modern music style in which different Mediterranean influences meet. Her first album “Amal” was released in 1998, and her second, “Shauq” in 2004. Her songs, which take inspiration from Palestinian folklore and traditional Arabic heritage, mingled with pop music elements, express her struggle against the marginalization and exclusion that Arab Palestinian culture faces.

Her first album, self-entitled “Amal” was written and composed by a diverse group of artists and musicians. It was released internationally in 2000 by EMI Hemisphere. Her second album “Shauq” (“Longing”) was recorded live in April 2004, at the Crown Hall in Jerusalem, with the Jerusalem symphonic orchestra.

Amal’s latest album, “Na’ na’ ya Na’ na'” is a bouquet of traditional Palestinian folk songs gathered from the Galilee, the mid-land triangle and the negev, from the distant past and the present, that have survived wars, catastrophes, and major social upheavals. These are songs of struggle and harvest, marriage and birth, songs of joyful women, wanderers and parting couples, that remain forever young.

Amal is a member of the counseling board of FreeMuse, an organization against censorship of art and music. She took an active part in its congress in Denmark in 2003. Amal is currently studying art as a tool for social change in Musrara College in Jerusalem.

Amal has been performing since the age of 5. In 1979 she won first prize in the national Arab children’s song festival, and went on to graduate from the Institute for Stage Art in Tel-Aviv in 1990. An accomplished actress, Amal appears regularly on TV in various educational and cultural programs. Amal has also appeared in feature films and was nominated for the Israeli Oscar for her performance in Ali Nasar’s movie “The Milky Way”. In 2003 Amal won Best Actress in the Haifa Theatre Festival.

Amal also regularly appears on radio, and her cultural program can currently be heard every Friday on Radio ASHAMS 98.1-101FM, from 11.00 – 1.00 (Jerusalem time).

Amal’s extensive vocal range and abilities enable her to sing in a wide variety of genres, ranging from traditional Arab roots to modern popular western styles. As a result, she has created some remarkable collaborations with other artists and international musicians, including Joan Baez in an anti-war concert that took place in Tel-aviv 1988; Marcedes Sosa; Oliver Shante, Germany; Stadio, Italy; the Greek singer Glykeria; Noa; Anwar Ebrahem from Tunisia, Enzo Avetable of Italy; Nani Cayemi in Brazil; Robert White in the UK and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liverpool (UK) in 2005, and many others. Amal has also completed projects with the Palestinian poets Mahmod Darwesh Nazarth in 2000, Kufer Yasef in 1999, and Sameh Alkasem in 2006.

Amal has received many commendations for her unique art and music and for her work with local communities. In 2001 Amal was chosen by Austrian TV as one of the most beautiful voices of the 20th century, after taking part in a music film produced by the ARTE TV “Premadonas Fest”, by the director-musician Andrew Heller, with Jesse Norman and Harris Alexiou, D.D. Bridgewater and others.


Amal (EMI Hemisphere, 1998)
Shauq (2004)
Na’na’ ya Na’ na’ (2007)
Baghani [I Sing] (2011)


A Beautiful Musical Experience in East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem
East Jerusalem West Jerusalem

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem, featuring David Broza, Steve Earle, Muhammad Mughrabi and Mira Awad (Film Movement, 2016)

The film East Jerusalem West Jerusalem is a documentary about the 8 day creative experience envisioned by celebrated Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza in East Jerusalem.

In early 2013, David Broza fulfilled his dream to record songs in the Palestinian side of Jerusalem with musicians from Palestine and Israel. The8-day sessions took place in the studio of Palestinian band Sabreen. The idea was to create a space for peace and to listen to each other with the hope that this will have a ripple effect.

Broza invited award-winning American singer-songwriter and activist Steve Earle as producer. Even though Steve Earle wrote a song called “Jerusalem” in the 1990s, he had never visited Jerusalem before.

Other guests included Israeli Palestinian singer, actress and activist Mira Awad; Palestinian cinematographer Issa Freij; Muhammad Mughrabi, Palestinian hip hop artist from the Shuaafat refugee camp; Israeli musicians Jean Paul Zimbris, Alon Nadel and Gadi Seri, along with other American, Israeli and Palestinian participants.

At the beginning of the film, David Broza sets the context for the project, showing the two sides of Jerusalem, and fascinating interviews. Broza sits on a rooftop with Issa Freij where they discuss their different experiences. Broza greets Steve Earle at the airport and later talks, jams and rehearses with him. There is also an interview with American record producer David Greenberg and several segments with Broza himself.

Some of the most noteworthy footage includes the shots of the musicians (and the filmmaker) rehearsing and having fun in the studio as they prepare for the recording sessions.

Broza chose to record in English, as a universal language, and the two local languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Although I don’t have the album, it is evident that that album has a mix of American folk music influences along with the Middle Eastern nuances of the ud, darbuka and kanun. Broza also adds a little flamenco spice that he picked up in Spain.

The film follows David Broza as he takes a night drive to the impoverished Shuafat refugee camp, the home of the two Palestinian rappers who collaborate on the album. It’s surprising that despite all the security measures nearby, the camp itself is pretty much on its own, without police or emergency services.

There are additional interviews with the Israeli and Palestinians where they describe their experiences. Many of them had never visited each others neighborhoods.

Broza also brought the new generations into the project, recording the voices of young singers representing the various communities.
Sadly, near the end of the film, Broza and Freij encounter a demonstration of Israelis who trade insults with the Palestinians, demonstrating that it’s hard to get away from politics and there is much more work to do.

David Broza grew up in Israel, Spain, and England. His musical influences range from flamenco to rock and Americana. He is also recognized for his commitment and dedication to several humanitarian causes, mostly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Since 1977, Broza has released over 30 albums in Hebrew, English and Spanish, many of which have become gold and platinum albums.

In the year 2006 David Broza received the “In Search for Common Ground” award along with Palestinian musician/composer Said Murad, and in 2009 the Spanish King, Juan Carlos I, decorated him with the Spanish Royal Medal of Honor for his longtime contribution to Israel-Spain relations, and his dedication to promotion of tolerance and conflict resolution.

In 2015 Broza recorded the album “Andalusian Love Song” with the Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon.

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem is a remarkable project that shows how we can all get along through the language of music.

Buy the East Jerusalem West Jerusalem DVD in the Americas

Buy the East Jerusalem West Jerusalem CD in the Americas

Buy the East Jerusalem West Jerusalem CD in Europe


Delightful Reem Kelani Live at the Tabernacle in London

Reem Kelani – Live at the Tabernacle (Fuse Records, 2016)

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that recordings of live performances are dynamic interactions with polite audiences only making their presence known by clapping at the very end of tracks, but Palestinian singer-songwriter, musician, broadcaster, educator and activist Reem Kelani’s live performance of Live at the Tabernacle proves not only live but lively.

With stories, audience sing-a-longs, impromptu performances and her own generous nature, Ms. Kelani holds sway over the audience on this two-CD set of her live 2012 concert out now on the Fuse Records label. Ms. Kelani proves just as captivating with her storytelling as she does with her powerful vocals and the ecstatic energy of Live at the Tabernacle leaks out on every track of the recorded version.

Backed by extraordinary musicians Bruno Heinen on piano, Tamer Abu Ghazeleh on oud, Ryan Trebilcock on double bass and Antonio Fusco on drums, percussion and bindir, Ms. Kelani’s vocals shine through on opening wedding song “Let Us In!” and the poignant, piano laced “Galilean Lullaby” that turns into a little sing-a-long with the audience.

“Sprinting Gazelle” comes with a little battle of the band with interplay of oud and bass, but it is “Songs of Parting” that blossoms into the unexpected as this medley of two songs takes off and includes an impromptu violin performance by audience member, Turkish musician and musicologist Cahit Baylav and added vocals by another audience member Cihan Ademhan.

Ms. Kelani and fellow musicians pay tribute to composer Sayyid Darwish with tracks like “The Porters’ Anthem” and “The Preachers’ Anthem.” These tracks are full, lush and explosively delicious blend of Middle Eastern and jazz. For those with a physical copy get full force of the lyrics as the booklet carries the English translation of these songs. To further her tribute to Mr. Darwish, Ms. Kelani include her own instrumental composition “1932” with her reading the poem “The Vinegar Cup” by Mu’in Bseiso over the music.

Live at the Tabernacle also includes gems like “The Ship Sounded Its Horn” by El-Hedi Guella and lyrics by El-Mouldi Zleiha and a performance of “Yarmouk” from documentary film “Les Chebabs de Yarmouk” by film director Axel Salvatori-Sinz. Live at the Tabernacle closes with the lively “Giving Praise.”

Proving she is just as affected by the audience, Ms. Kelani gives an explanation of the performance of “Giving Praise” in the liner notes, “This song is now a regular feature of my shows. I use it not just to give praise as in its original context, but also as an opportunity to feature the musicians in the band. That night at the Tabernacle, they were ‘in the zone,’ alongside the very spirited audience.”

Live at the Tabernacle is potently powerful and deliciously delightful.

Buy Live at the Tabernacle in North America

Buy Live at the Tabernacle in Europe


Interview with Trio Joubran, Performers at Rainforest World Music Festival 2012

Trio Joubran
Palestinian act Trio Joubran is scheduled to perform at the 2012 edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival. The festival takes place July 13 – 15 this year. In addition to their live performance, the trio will participate in the music workshops that take place in the afternoon at Sarawak Cultural village.

Adnan Joubran discusses Trio Joubran’s music with World Music Central.

Can you give our readers a brief history on how the trio was formed?

The Trio’s story started with a solo brother, Samir, who’s older than the other brothers by 10 years, so he started his career before and opened a wide path for oud music in Palestine. In 2002, Samir and Wissam formed a duet group after their meeting in a concert in south of France, and had great success. This success gave me the envy to approach the oud, and I started to play. Samir was inspired by the Friday Night in San Francisco album with Paco de Lucia, Al Dimeola and John McLaughlin, and this is how we’ve put three chairs and dared to improvise together. We composed the album Randana, with what we started touring in France and Europe.

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Trio Joubran
Brotherhood – since it was the first reason to our project and since brotherhood and family element in our tradition is something sacred and important to our being. More than that, knowing each other, expectations, and challenges are elements that exist in brotherhood, that’s why our music based also on improvisation. Improvisation is a big important element in our music.

Honest Inspiration too is an essential element; coming from Palestine is a big issue in our life, in each Palestinian’s life, being Palestinian is somehow a full time job. We can’t forget reality for a second and make music simply for love, light, or any other case.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Personally, I’m very influenced by the biggest flamenco players, such as Paco de Lucia & Vicente Amigo.

We are influenced by many kinds of music; the classical oriental music was our reference because we were born in a home which produces this music. Being in Europe and performing in big festivals gave us the privilege to meet many important musicians and get influenced by their culture, such as India, Spain, classical western, Jazz, etc.

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

Le Trio Jubran - Randana
Talking about the first recording Randana – 2004, it was such a big experience and challenge, knowing that there wasn’t Oud Trio before we did form this trio, so we knew that whatever we will deposit it will take its place, and grow. We had to respect all the tradition, and be different, compose something good so it will be alive for eternity, we had to avoid all what is pure western and we had this music which was experimental for a time, and emotional for another, virtuous for a time and so pure for another.

After the success of this album, we understood that it can work! So we were more relaxed to make music for the sound, for the beauty of the moment, for the feelings… for the poetry. We were inspired from the great poet Mahmoud Darwich, and we tried to create the metaphoric music, the reason why we named our later CD – Majaz – which means Metaphor. We refused the World Music naming , so we tried to name it metaphoric music, in this album we met the great percussionist Youssef Hbeisch who gave another dimension for our work , which completed the musical development also.

In our last album we invited a special guest a great friend above all and most important an amazing musician! Dhafer Youssef, who with his voice had transformed our music to magical and gave it another dimension of spirituality. During our career we were lucky to meet many artists who give a bit for our musical knowledge.

Can you share some information about the program you’ll present at the Rainforest World Music Festival?

Usually this year we play a mix between our last two albums, Majaz and AsFar , but in the same time when we go to festivals at the last moment sometimes we change the program according to the atmosphere of the public, the time we perform, the stage, the ambiance of the place. We are improvisers, and we love it! So be ready to everything!

How’s the current music scene in Palestine?

The music in Palestine, even talking about all kinds of art is in its peak! we are very glad that we have helped this musical revolution and artistic spirit grow, we are very proud of all the Palestinian artist, we have an amazing percentage of great artists who are becoming known, all this because of the need to exist, we feel as Palestinians that our weapon is our culture and art, our existence is the most threatening weapon for the Israeli occupation, they are trying to delete the word “Palestine”, but our culture and language and art is making them remember the past! They can hear Palestine in each note we play

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?

Wow.. many! .. But I know that the trio has been working on drawing the musical identity of the trio and now we are ready to work with great musicians… good musicians.. After all, when you love someone’s music, or person or art, you can do everything with him. The secret is the love..

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with our readers?

We are working on a limited edition package which includes all our CDs, and few bonus tracks and videos, which will be out in Christmas, and will be starting to perform it at the Olympia in the 7th of February 2013 in Paris!


Tamaas (2002)
Randana (2005)
Majaz (2007)
À l’ombre des mots (2008)
AsFar, with Dhafer Youssef (2011)

Official website: http://www.letriojoubran.com

Rainforest World Music Festival: rwmf.net

For travel to Rainforest World Music Festival and accommodation: sarawaktourism.com