A Lover from Palestine: A Stunning Musical Tribute to Palestinian Unity

Asheq min Felesteen was recorded in music studios in Palestine, Turkey and Australia. (Photo: Screen shot)

By Samah Sabawi

A new young Palestinian generation scattered across the world, divided by language and time barriers, have come together to produce this lyrical, musical and visual feat.

Sung by Rahaf Shamaly in Gaza, Hamada Nasrallah and SolBand in Istanbul, and composed by Nahed Elrayes in Melbourne, the song was recorded in music studios in Palestine, Turkey and Australia and the video, directed by Mahmoud Abughalwa, shot in all three locations.  All in all, the project involved more than 40 young talented Palestinian artists.

The idea began when composer Nahed Elrayes, in his early 20s at the time, born in Canada and living in Australia, felt drawn to compose the words of a Mahmoud Darwish poem. “I never imagined how powerful the experience would ultimately be, or that our song would mirror the experiences of Palestinians this past May – that beautiful demonstration of unity across borders, from Yafa to Gaza to Australia… and the passing of the generational torch”

Nahed and Hamada, first met as teens in Gaza in 2013. They were both performing at an event run by AlQattan Centre for the Child. The friendship was instant and the seed of the dream to work together on a musical piece was planted. Since that day, life got harder for Hamada and SolBand, and like countless other artists who tried to remain in Gaza, the multiple wars and bombardments and siege made it impossible for them to remain. SolBand is now part of a large and fast-growing community of Palestinian refugees from Gaza living in Istanbul. The members of the band work hard, Hamada laughs as he mentions juggling three jobs in order to save for their first performance tour in Europe in September.

For Hamada and all the members of SolBand, the drive to complete this project was fuelled by a strong desire to connect regardless of borders and obstacles, and to envision a model of existence that enables us, Palestinians, to reach out for one another and to find strength and empowerment. “We wanted to portray an expression of unity”, Hamada explained. “We all came together as Palestinian artists residing in or outside Palestine, it didn’t matter where, but we were united through a language that the whole world understands and appreciates; and that is music.”

But can music be enough? Nahed reflects on the long agonizing months of production, the hardest time was when the bombs rained again on Gaza while Rahaf was preparing to record her part of the song.  “That Rahaf would sing in the rubble of our Gaza, unexpectedly massacred yet again – every moment of the project felt significant. By the end, it was a different song.”

A lover from Palestine, Asheq min Felesteen is produced by Rayes Production, and has just been released on Nahed ElRayes’s Youtube channel, and will be released on August 17 on SolBand’s Youtube Channel.

All media inquiries please write to Rayes Productions: rayesproductions@gmail.com 

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