News / Middle East

Egyptian Singer Tackles Real, Metaphorical Walls

Egyptian Singer Tackles Real, Metaphorical Wallsi
|| 0:00:00
X
Elizabeth Arrott
September 12, 2012 7:19 PM
The Fair Play international music awards honor young musicians for their work exposing corruption and oppression around the world. This year's winner, who will travel to Brazil in November to receive her award, comes from Egypt. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more.

Egyptian Singer Tackles Real, Metaphorical Walls

Elizabeth ArrottJaphet Weeks
The Fair Play international music awards honor young musicians for their work exposing corruption and oppression around the world.  This year's winner, who will travel to Brazil in November to receive her award, comes from Egypt. 

Egyptian songwriter Youssra el-Hawary is new to performing, but she won the global music award with her first video Al Soor, or The Wall.

El-Hawary set her video against walls built by Egypt's military rulers earlier this year around government ministries in Cairo.

Youssra El Hawary, 29 at her home in Cairo. (Yuli Weeks/VOA)Youssra El Hawary, 29 at her home in Cairo. (Yuli Weeks/VOA)
x
Youssra El Hawary, 29 at her home in Cairo. (Yuli Weeks/VOA)
Youssra El Hawary, 29 at her home in Cairo. (Yuli Weeks/VOA)
In a light and lilting voice, el-Hawary tells the story of a “poor man” who stands before a wall and “peed - on the wall, and on those who built it.”

It's a cheeky dig at the authorities, at one with the sunny scenes protesters painted on the imposing walls.

But the lyrics, from a poem by her friend Walid Taher, were written in 2005, well before last year's revolution. "When Walid wrote it, he didn't mean this wall, of course.  It was more like a philosophy, about any wall," she said.

The military's walls have since fallen, like the old government before it.  But even after democratic elections, el-Hawary says, other barriers remain.

"For the government, I see that nothing changed.  I don't see that we have more freedom now actually.  It's still the same.  Actually, I face more problems in the arts after the revolution,” she said.

El-Hawary lives on a bustling street not far from Cairo's Tahrir Square.  In general, she is optimistic, heartened that her fellow Egyptians have been empowered by the revolution.  And despite growing concern for women under an Islamist government, she says she has not suffered for not wearing the veil.

Watch Youssra el-Hawary perform Al Soor, or The Wall (Video by Japhet and Yuli Weeks)
Youssra el-Hawary performs Al Soor, or The Walli
|| 0:00:00
X
Japhet and Yuli Weeks
September 12, 2012 7:23 PM
Watch Egyptian songwriter Youssra el-Hawary perform Al Soor, or The Wall.

There is a freshness to the 29-year-old singer, who also is an actor and a mime - a contrast to the pop trends common among her contemporaries.

And then there is the accordion. "I wanted to play an instrument that I can take anywhere because I was very jealous of my friends," said el-Hawary. "They can take guitars on trips or something.  And I play piano, so I can't take it anywhere.”

Although the instrument is played in Egypt, el-Hawary evokes a French style that she balances with Middle Eastern melodies.  She says the novelty of “a young girl playing the accordion in Cairo” helped make The Wall a success.  She recalls posting the video late one night.

"I woke up the next morning with my phone saying that I had 350 emails and 400 notifications on Facebook and I said, 'There's something wrong with my phone,'" she said.

The song went viral, catching the attention of the Fair Play judges in Brazil, where she will receive her prize in November and take part in a “Voices Against Corruption” festival.  Hers is a political voice, and a strong one, yet light, cheerful and sly.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Haanh
September 13, 2012 10:37 AM
That's great


by: sinan from: Turkey
September 12, 2012 7:53 PM
it is very nice to read this article and listen these good musics.


by: SAma
September 11, 2012 8:24 PM
congratulations Youssra , keep it up

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid