Crossing Borders – Uniting Rhythms

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Music From Syria, Afghanistan,Iran,Sudan,Egypt, Lebanon And Palestine.

English Pen and Arts Canteen present an evening of spoken world and music with a focus on freedom of expression in issues around identity, art, music and free speech. The evening event is part of the day event Crossing Borders.

Line up:

Maya Youssef

Virtuoso Syrian Kanun player Maya Youssef comes from a family of artists. Her virtuosity and unique innovative approach to playing the kanun, originally a traditional instrument, expanded her audiences to international platforms.

Maya has performed all over the world and is the winner of the Exceptional Talent award which enabled her to migrate to the UK early 2012. Currently, she is working on her first debut album, and researching Music Healing for Syrian Refugee Children as her PhD project at SOAS University of London, where she is also teaching the kanun and directing SOAS Middle Eastern Ensemble.

Her continuous appearance as a celebrated kanun player in the Media and as a regular on the BBC led her to perform recently at the legendary BBC Proms at The Royal Albert Hall amongst others.

Amira Kheir

Sudanese-Italian singer, has been enchanting audiences around the world with a sound inspired by traditional music from her homeland Sudan and anchored in experimental Jazz and Soul. The result is a unique style of ‘Sudani-Jazz’ that gives tasters of Sudan’s rich musical heritage of distinctive Saharan blues and Sufi music whilst being reflective of the artist’s key Jazz and Soul musical upbringing.

Somayé سمیه@

'Her rhythms are so fluid but it's all there and her amazing voice floats effortlessly over the top' John Kameel Farah, Award winning composer

Somaye's unique arrangements of jazz standards on the tombak create a captivating sound that can only emerge from London's cultural melting pot. Born to Iranian parents in London, Somaye spent three years living in Iran before fleeing and returning to London.

She found solace in music and initially trained on the piano before discovering her true talent as a singer. She then returned to her Iranian roots by learning to play the tombak. Her musical blend is the expression of a life torn between two cultures.

Soroor Elaha

Born to a Afghan parents in Iran, Elaha Soroor spent her childhood and teenagehood in Iran,before moving back to Afghanistan. Farsi was her first language. She began singing, acting and taking formal music lessons at age of sixteen. She began writing and performing her own songs during her years of formal music study. In 2008, Elaha participated in Afghan Star singing competition. Her performances were widely reported and thousands of people viewed her videos on YouTube.

Nadya Shanab

A singer/songwriter born and raised in Egypt. Nadya interrupted her studies of Sociology and Maths at The American University in Cairo (AUC) to study at Paul McCartney’s school, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) where she attained her BA (Hons) degree in Music. She went on to establish the music company Hamzet Wasl Records and later studied for a masters degree in Music Industry Studies at the university of Liverpool. Shanab's often haunting melodies are laced with oriental vocals and spiced up with passionate, heartfelt lyrics.

Juliana Yazbeck

Lebanese heritage has influenced her musical style and political lyrics. Combining poetry and music, Western and Middle Eastern styles, and tribal beats with smooth harmonies, her songs tell stories focused on gender, war, displacement and love. Juliana is also an arts journalist, a classical pianist and a music entrepreneur

Fajr Tamimi MC

Poet and writer Fajr Tamimi engaged with fiery, lyrical, spoken word exploring the conflicts in her homeland Palestine, with musical accompaniment by an oud player.

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