Shubbak Festival will return to London’s Barbican Hall on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 with a special tribute concert to the late Palestinian singer, songwriter and composer Rim Banna. The show will include musicians who knew her best as well as close peers in the Palestinian music scene.
The performers include Lebanese visual artist and singer-songwriter Tania Saleh, Palestinian composer and pianist Faraj Suleiman and Syrian producer/MC Bu Kolthoum who will be performing newly re-orchestrated versions of Rim Banna’s material, accompanied by a specially assembled band.
The event is called “The Trace of the Butterfly,” which is the name of one of Banna’s songs as well as a poem by Mahmoud Darwish.
Rim Banna was a Palestinian singer born in the city of Nazareth in Galilee. She loved music and singing ever since she was a child. She participated in festivals commemorating Land Day (March 30) as well as in national and political occasions. She also participated in celebrations at schools.
Rim started her artistic life when she was 10 years old. She studied music and singing at the Higher Music Conservatory (Gnesins) in Moscow. She specialized in modern singing and in leading vocal ensembles. She finished the 6-year academic studies and graduated in 1991. During this time, Rim produced two albums of live recordings: Jafra and Your Tears, O Mother.
In 1991 Rim married Leonid Alexeyenko, a musician from Ukraine. Leonid studied music and singing together with Rim at the Higher Music Conservatory in Moscow, where they worked together in music and composing. Currently, they live in the Arab city of Nazareth, the capital of the Galilee.
Rim Banna’s songs were unique first and foremost because she composed most of her songs. She had a special musical method in composing and singing her songs. Her songs were inspired from the heart of the Palestinian People, from its heritage, its history and culture. Her singing and music are also inspired by the rhythms of the desert in the south, by the sea along the long Palestinian coastline, by the beautiful nature and its lovely colors of the flatland and the hills, by the echo between the mountains and the valleys, by the beat of the ancient Canaanite hymns which imitated the sound of the pure water emerging from between the rocks and the singing of the birds in the fields, that do not migrate but stand steadfast just like the blessed olive tree and the stubborn cacti which fill the land of Palestine.
The music and the melodies were inspired by the solidity of the lyric and from a profound feeling of the rhythm of the word. The intermarriage between word and tune take us from the skies of Palestine into the whole world. Her songs express the suffering of the Palestinian People, its dreams and obsessions, its joys, its sadness and its hopes.
The lyrics of the songs were by famous Palestinian poets: Tawfiq Zayyad, Mahmoud Darwish, Samih Al Qasim, Zuhaira Sabbagh, Sidi Harkash and some songs are written by Rim Banna herself. The two artists, Rim Banna and Leonid participate in composing the tunes in a creative and unique way.
Rim Banna’s specialty was the Palestinian genre Tahalil which are children’s bedtime songs. These had been imprisoned inside rooms until Rim sang them and presented them to the audience all over the world. Rim is still the only singer who presents Tahalil.
Rim sang several songs for children which she wrote and composed herself. These songs became widely popular among children especially when presented at Children’s Festivals such as Nawwar Nisan Festival, Farah and Marah Festival, Jericho Winter Festival and Martyrs’ Children Festival.
Rim Banna and Leonid presented the Palestinian traditional song in a modern way both musically and in terms of its performance without destroying the essence of the tune or the beauty of the lyric. Together with her husband, Rim composed music for Palestinian popular lyrics such as popular stories, games and seasons songs. They compose music for these lyrics, which is inspired from Palestinian popular music, ancient Arabic music and also from international music of different nations. Rim Banna’s songs possed a rare continuity from generation to generation which maintains the great heritage of authentic popular art which is rooted deeply and fortifies National belonging.
Rim Banna and Leonid participated in numerous local and International festivals in Egypt, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Czech Republic, Jordan, at the Mediterranean Women Festival in Tunisia, Switzerland, Romania, Denmark and Morocco.
Rim’s songs also played an important role in several film and TV productions, including documentary programs about the Palestinian popular uprising (Intifada) in Palestine.
Rim Banna carried a message and aspires to achieve several goals: – Upgrading the Arabic Palestinian committed and untraditional song to the level of the international song. – Upgrading the ability to enjoy popular music and singing to a suitable Arab and international level and liberating the Arab song from negative influences.
Rim Banna died in March 2018 after a ten-year struggle with breast cancer.