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Egyptian Women Making Sound

Female Egyptian musicians changing the game

On the come-up in Cairo is a sound slithering its way through the cracks in the walls. It is floating through the hallways and the music halls, finding admiring listeners in the young generation ready for a new flavor of music. Egypt has seen a transformational shift in its music scene in recent years. The new crop of emerging artists is inspired, creative, and unique. They have found their own voices. They have stories, and they are intent on sharing them. The music produced takes on unconventional shapes and embodies unconventional sounds. In this new era of music, each track is its own realm, each artist is her own universe.

Egyptian women in music today have turned the word unconventional into a revolution of sorts. As we marvel at the bravery it takes to venture into the unknown as a creative woman in the region, we must take a moment to highlight some of the Egyptian women currently shaking the music scene.

POLITICALLY OUTWARD AND MUSICALLY DIVERSE: DINA EL WEDIDI

Dina El Wedidi is a stepping stone in the Egyptian music scene. First stepping into the limelight in 2011, the artist brought forth a musical landscape of politics and social honesty that was very outspoken for its time. El Wedidi sings about female torment like no one else. Her matter-of-fact storytelling, paired with her eloquent Arabic and her enticing music is a gift to Egyptian women everywhere.

The artist paved the way for Arab women in music. She was a brave introduction to unapologetic female expression in the region that we had never seen before, and she remains a pivotal turning point for women in music. Her song Al Ors tells the story of a woman who has been forcibly married and impregnated, exploring the themes of womanhood in the Middle East in a rather unprecedented manner. Not only does the song openly state that the woman did not want to marry her now husband, but it also plays on the concept of being pregnant with a child out of an unwanted marriage. The song’s introduction takes the listener by storm; it is a hurricane of raw statements, something El Wedidi is known for.

El Wedidi was recently part of the group of musicians on the trending track Rajieen, an emotive Arab anthem showcasing solidarity for the Palestinian people. The track, which features 25 artists from all over the region, is donating all proceeds from the song and video to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

DANCING, DAZZLING, & DELIGHTFUL: DONIA WAEL

Donia Wael finds us at the meeting point between genres. The artist fuses R&B with an Egyptian beat to enchant us with an eccentric blend. Her experimental sound gives her an unconventional edge and allows her to stand out creatively from the crowd.

Her latest single Bekya is a collaboration with producer Al Waili. The track, which was embraced by audiences, explores themes of existentialism through questioning the world around us. Wael’s music is whimsical and exploratory. It both sounds like a night out with your friends, and a long drive alone in the rain as you question everything and everyone. It is this duality that allows her music to float around with a life of its own, taking on new shapes and creating an identity that is personal to the artist alone.

LULLIBIES FROM ANOTHER ROOM: LELLA FADDA

Lella Fadda is an enigma both in and out of music. It is the singer’s soft voice and raw sound that make her different from her musical counterparts of this generation.

Fadda brings a genuity to the music scene that is new to the Arab world. Her music is a meeting point of rawness and simplicity. At the beginning of her career, she noticed a lack of transparency in the Arab scene when it came to music. “The artist could be happily married and still singing about heartbreak. It’s not real to what they’re experiencing, and so I wanted to do that, to be honest within my work.” Fadda expressed in an interview.

The artist has since lived up to that statement, with songs like Betshofny Ezay and El Donia Betaaty openly discussing her emotions. It is Fadda’s lyrical simplicity that is breathtaking at times, to put complex experiences simply is often what makes listening to them so shattering.

 

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BOLD, BADASS, & BREATHTAKING: JUNO

Egyptian singer Juno has been one of the most pivotal turning points in the Egyptian music scene these past couple of years. In the heart of a region that values nothing more than unanimity, Juno sticks out like a sore thumb. From her music to her fashion, everything about Juno is a statement. With her signature black mullet, experimental makeup, and bold stylistic choices, the artist is in no way timid about being the center of attention.

The singer effortlessly found her way through the underground music scene. One thing about Juno: she is impossible to miss. Her song Power of She is a soft jazz soundtrack straight out of a 50’s rom-com, and we love it. The artist pairs her ethereal voice with light-hearted guitars and celebratory lyrics; it’s a feel-good anthem we adore.

 

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THE REVIVAL OF EGYPTIAN FOLK: SAMAR TARIK

Samar Tarik brings about Egyptian culture in a way that is astonishingly true to tradition. Her music whisks together Egyptian folk sounds with a modern undertone that has revived the beloved sound. Music that we would usually hear hummed to us by a grandparent has found itself in stunning weaves of newness in Tarik’s work. It is the kind of work that music fans who have an ear to the ground searching for exciting new sounds will find themselves marveling over.

The singer’s emotive voice and lyrics complement her sound as though sculpted for this craft and this craft alone. Her song Masafat is a perfect example as she explores the emotional turmoil of the space between her and the people around her after a turbulent and emotional breakup.

LOOKING FORWARD: REVOLUTIONIZING MUSIC IN EGYPT

As with every new era of art, the music coming out of Egypt at the moment is experimental and brand new. The women behind it have taken leaps in creating sounds that are real to their own experiences regardless of how unconventional, and at times controversial they might seem to some. Art has never found itself revolutionized in the comfort of the norms; it is always in the shaking of our boots, in the dismantling of our systems that an uprising occurs. This is how Dina, Donia, Lella, Juno, and Samar are bringing forth a new era of music.

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