News / Arts & Entertainment

Arab-Israeli Singer Bridges Cultures Through Music

Mira Awad in concert (Photo by Nanni Fontana)
Mira Awad in concert (Photo by Nanni Fontana)
Adam Phillips
Arab-Israeli songwriter and pop star Mira Awad began her weeklong run at New York’s Metropolitan Room by singing a traditional tune from the Arab village in northern Israel where she was born in 1975 to a Palestinian father and a Bulgarian mother.
 
“It comes from the belly. It doesn’t come from thinking," Awad said of her music. "It doesn’t come from a planned way of singing like opera or like the Western kind of singing which is very calculated. This is much more passionate like flamenco, like these things that come from the blood. Like we say: 'We have hot blood.' It’s not by accident.”
 
There is a different sort of heat in the soulful Europop songs Awad’s fans are most familiar with. All My Faces is the title song from her 2011 album.     

“It only tackles the level of my womanhood, but it’s like that about everything," Awad said. "We all have many faces. No one is one thing. That’s boring. We are all made out of many many many many layers.”     

Listen: Arab-Israeli Singer Bridges Cultural Gap Through Music
Arab-Israeli Singer Bridges Cultural Gap Through Music i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Awad says this Western, unabashedly sensual style of music would raise eyebrows in her hometown, although the village is relatively modern compared to many Palestinian communities in Israel’s Galilee region.  

“But nevertheless, it’s an Arab culture and still it is very patriarchal and the father decides for the family, the man decides for the woman," she said. "A woman is expected to, OK, go study, go work, but choose family life eventually, and I didn’t. I wanted a career. I wanted to go follow my passions. The word ‘passions’ is scary one in the culture I come from. A woman having passions is scary. It’s a woman you cannot control.”
 
Awad’s history of protest and activism began at the age of 16, when she began started to play in her own rock and roll band. The neighbors would often gossip when she’d get picked up in the village by her band mates, all of whom happened to be male, for the drive to Nazareth to rehearse.

“It was very difficult for them to understand how come my father is letting me do that and they even started to interfere with the upbringing [saying] ‘Take hold of your daughter. Put her in her place,’" Awad said. "So actually that is the place I started from protesting, to have an equal say, to have any say at all,  about my own life and to choose differently if I liked to, as a woman.”

Awad left the confines of village life as soon as she could and enrolled at the university in Haifa, a city unusual in Israel for its mixed Jewish and Arab population. Awad had never defined herself in ethnic terms, because everyone she grew up with was Arab.

But on campus, her fair skin and green eyes did not fit the common stereotype of what Palestinians look like. Jewish students thought she was also Jewish, and felt free to express their true feelings about Arabs in her presence.

“I suddenly started to realize how much racism there is against Palestinian citizens of Israel and I’m hearing this and my blood was boiling in my veins,” Awad said.
    
Although Awad is well known in Israel and Europe for her songs about life and love, she is perhaps best known for her songs about peace, justice and equality. In 2009, she and Jewish Israeli singer Noa were chosen by the Eurovision Song Contest to sing her song There Must Be Another Way about forging peace between their two peoples.
 
But Awad says her hopes go far beyond Israel and Palestine.  

“I believe we have to go together as a human race and try to figure out how we share the resources of this poor planet that we’re on,” she said.      

These days, one of Awad’s favorite instruments is a friend’s cracked flute she saved from the trash. She says she has learned to honor life’s imperfections – that, like the poet  Leonard Cohen, she believes that “there’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”